Raiders Rumors: Michael Mayer Expected To Begin Season As Starting Tight End
Michael Mayer, Raiders
Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer (TE10) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders made some potentially key additions to the roster in the 2023 NFL Draft. While first-round pick Tyree Wilson is more of a project as a pass rusher, tight end Michael Mayer, a second-round pick whom the team traded up to select, was viewed as a major contributor from day one.

Coming into the draft Mayer was the top-ranked tight end to many prognosticators, with his pass-catching ability being supplemented by his willingness and ability to engage in blocking as well. Unfortunately, Mayer has dealt with injury throughout much of camp, but he still looks to be the team’s starter at the position as the regular season nears.

Tashan Reed of The Athletic recently released a 53-man roster projection for the Raiders, and within it, he named Mayer as the expected starter at tight end for the Raiders:

Mayer has missed significant time during OTAs and training camp due to undisclosed injuries and has taken his lumps as a blocker, but he’s still clearly the Raiders’ best option at tight end. Hooper, who is Mayer’s only real competition, is more of a complementary piece than a three-down tight end. It feels unlikely the Raiders will keep more than three tight ends.

There is no doubt that Mayer is the Raiders’ best option at tight end and someone who can help the team immediately. With Davante Adams getting so much attention on the outside, the middle of the field should have a lot of room to operate, and that is where Mayer can thrive.

Austin Hooper is a solid depth piece who has proven to be a more than reliable receiver in the past, but he has been nowhere near the Pro Bowler he was as a member of the Falcons back in 2018 and 2019. Even while missing time in camp it still seems pretty obvious that the starting job is his to lose.

Because of those injuries and Mayer perhaps not being as up to speed as they would like, it could lead to head coach Josh McDaniels cycling in Hooper a little bit more when the season begins. But as the year goes on Mayer should emerge as the clear top option and one of the best young tight ends in the league.

This offense has some serious talent on it with Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and Hunter Renfrow comprising an excellent trio of receivers. And Michael Mayer is an under-the-radar piece that could take this offense over the top.