As the hours tick forward towards the start of this year’s NFL draft, it’s always interesting to see how the plethora of mock drafts wind down and which players end up being the analyst’s final pick for each team.
One player that’s catching some steam with just a few days remaining is Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer. Over the last 24 hours, Mayer was the pick for the Chargers in two different mocks: One from Bucky Brooks’ final mock over at NFL.com and the other being Daniel Popper’s pick in the first in his final mock draft for the Bolts.
Here’s what Brooks had to say about the pick in his mock:
“Putting a big-bodied tight end with soft hands in the middle of the field will help Justin Herbert take advantage of the two-deep looks opponents are utilizing to slow down Mike Williams and Keenan Allen on the perimeter.”
And now, here’s what Popper had to say about the Chargers’ chances of selecting a plug-and-play starter at a position of need:
“The Chargers do not have the requisite run blocking in their tight end room to operate (Kellen) Moore’s system effectively. Head coach Brandon Staley wants to run an offense that maximizes the mismatches tight ends can create in all phases, pass and run. They need a complete room in order to do that, and I do not think they have that level of talent between Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr. and Tre’ McKitty, who all have weaknesses in their games. Mayer is good value at 21, and he projects as the type of all-around tight end the Chargers have not deployed since Hunter Henry left in free agency in 2021. Even if Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is available at 21, I think the Chargers would take Mayer over him because of what he can bring as a run blocker.”
Popper’s reasoning is clear and makes a ton of sense. Everybody and their mother is hoping and praying that the Chargers find a receiver with elite speed and that could very well come in the first round by way of Zay Flowers or Jalin Hyatt. However, I’d argue the selection of Mayer makes the most sense when given the above explanation, but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the least-sexy moves possible on day one. A dynamic receiver or an electric edge rusher would get the fan base revved up. A high-floor tight end with great production but lackluster athleticism just doesn’t have the same pizzazz, but it’s likely to be the type of pick that will eventually be seen as a home run a year or two down the road.
Herbert needs weapons. Outside of the first, there’s plenty of receivers who could provide a new skillset to the offense. A tight end that not only provides a safety blanket for the team’s superstar passer, but also unlocks the untapped potential of the run game, could be the difference in Moore’s tenure in Los Angeles kicking off with a bang as opposed to waiting indefinitely for things to turn out.