The Chargers have been in limbo at the tight end position since Hunter Henry was allowed to walk in free agency prior to the 2021 season.
Over the past two seasons, veterans Jared Cook (2021) and Gerald Everett (2022) were signed to help bridge the gap in the meantime. Both enjoyed respectable performances with Everett recording career highs in receptions and yards this past season in his first year with Justin Herbert.
But this offseason, the Chargers may be forced to find a long-term answer in the draft. Donald Parham continues to flash his potential, but injuries have continued to linger over the past two seasons. Tre McKitty is still far from where the team needs him be and it’s not likely he makes an astronomical leap forward in his progression before next season.
With all that in mind, it should come as a surprise that NFL draft analysts continue to mock tight ends to the Chargers in the first round. We’ve seen Utah’s Dalton Kincaid mocked to the Bolts already and today we’ve got a new name from the folks at CBS Sports.
In a brand new mock, analyst Ryan Wilson has the Chargers taking the first tight end off the board in Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer with the 21st-overall pick.
“Michael Mayer is more Gronk than Kelce, but that’s not a bad thing,” says Wilson. “And in Los Angeles, he’ll get plenty of opportunities with Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Josh Palmer.”
The Chargers offense certainly have a lot of mouths to feed, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mayer earn a decent workload out of the gate. At a little over 6’4 and 265 pounds, Mayer is already a complete tight end with size, athleticism, and a willingness to mix it up in the run game.
The 2022 First-Team All-American caught 67 passes for 809 yards and nine touchdowns in his final season with the Fighting Irish. Over his three years at Notre Dame, he caught 180 passes for 2,099 yards and 18 total touchdowns. That’s about as productive as they get coming from the college level.
The Draft Network has Mayer’s pro comparison as former Cowboys legend Jason Witten. While he wouldn’t be the most dynamic player at his position, the rest of his well-rounded game more than makes up for it as a reliable player in all facets of the offense that already looks like a long-time NFL contributor for whomever ends up drafting him.
Michael Mayer is going to be a top 20 pick in the NFL Draft.— TheOGfantasyfootball (@TheOGfantasy) January 22, 2023
21 Years Old with great college production- 180 receptions and 18 TDs at Notre Dame. Back to back 800 yard seasons.
He should be drafted as a top 12 TE in Dynasty pic.twitter.com/obR1bYdNUR