Notre Dame is one of the preeminent tight end factories in college football, and Michael Mayer is the next in line to represent the prestigious university. He was a five-star recruit out of Alexandria, Kentucky, and he was sought after by Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Mayer is a big athlete who presents a mismatch for opposing defenses. He can block adequately - with room to grow in that area - and he should be in the conversation for a Round 1 selection in 2023.
TE, Notre Dame
Weight: 251 lbs
- Excellent size and frame
- Very good athletic ability to create separation
- Savvy route runner with excellent spatial awareness
- Routes are crisp and smooth - can tempo his routes well
- Too big for safeties - too quick for linebackers
- Utilizes excellent catch radius
- Makes catches all around his frame - great in contested catch situations
- Soft hands - a difference-maker as a receiver
- Solid overall blocker when he sinks pad level
- Does a solid job absorbing contact at the POA
- Nimble in space with quick feet
- Falls forward through contact
- Isn’t dominant as a blocker
- Can allow his pad level to rise to leave him vulnerable
- Struggled to consistently block down and close gaps against quick penetrating defenders
Why is he a top prospect?
It’s easy to see why Mayer is a top prospect. The former five-star recruit out of Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky is a long, reliable receiving threat with great athletic ability and solid blocking skills. He is nimble with good foot quickness, change of direction and lateral agility to make players miss, and he possesses good acceleration, long speed, and explosiveness. Mayer is a receiving threat at all three levels of the field - he’s too quick for linebackers and too big for safeties.
His ability to climb the proverbial ladder and pluck the football away from his frame with excellent concentration is a trait that’s on full display while watching Notre Dame. He does a great job adjusting to footballs that are behind him on back-shoulder throws over the middle of the field. Mayer understands how to uncover against zone defenses by using tempo in his releases and finding the soft spots, and his athletic ability/frame allow him to create good separation against most collegiate talent. His skills are translatable as a receiver, and he should be among the top tight ends in the country next year.
I love how Mayer had a propensity to pick up every yard he could after a catch. Mayer attempted to leap over aggressive defenders and would - at times - fall awkwardly. He also used his foot quickness to make a few safeties miss in space. He had a long catch against Florida State in Week 1 (2021) where he made two players look silly in space. He also displayed the physical toughness to take big shots over the middle of the field and hold onto the football.
Furthermore, Mayer can block well when he keeps his hat low. He consistently churns his legs through contact and does an adequate job overall fitting his hands inside. There’s still room for growth as a blocker, but Mayer does enough to offer two-way ability at the tight end position. He can align inline as a Y, as a big slot, or split out wide on 3x1 sets. There’s a lot to appreciate about Mayer’s game, and he can build upon an excellent sophomore season where he caught 74.7 percent of his 95 targets with seven touchdowns.
What to improve for 2022?
His receiving capabilities are on full display, but there’s room for improvement in the blocking department. He has solid overall play strength, but he doesn’t maximize his ability to use his play strength. He has the temperament and competitive toughness to be a good blocking tight end. Too often, he allows defenders into his chest and he’ll lose the pad-level battle which will negate the play strength that he does possess.
He needs to be a more consistent with his blocking technique and the fundamentals. He also struggled to seal interior gaps on the backside of outside zone rushing plays. Defenders that penetrated at the snap beat him to the spot, and he could not consistently cut that angle off. Mayer was very impressive when he stepped onto campus for the 2020 season. He’ll receive an opportunity to build on his already impressive college resume.
One game to watch in 2022
Vs. Stanford, Oct. 15th