Do you remember how it felt when it dawned on you that the Dallas Cowboys landed themselves the best defensive player in the 2021 NFL Draft in Micah Parsons? What a feeling that was. And then last year when Cowboys Nation was up in arms about the “reach” of Tyler Smith, that feeling slowly dissipated as we once again realized the Cowboys had landed themselves another great player.
The Cowboys are notorious for pulling off some amazing Day 1 tricks of the draft, and one thing that seems to come up more times than not is how they go after a player who they believe is the very best at their respective position. Whether it’s a high-value position like wide receiver or a much lesser-valued position like center, the Cowboys have done a great job finding some of the top talents at a certain position.
We want to remind everyone that the list above are players the Cowboys’ believed were the best at their respective position at the time of the draft. It doesn’t matter if Morris Claiborne didn’t work out according to plan, he was highly touted by Dallas nonetheless. So did a lot of teams that year, but it was the Cowboys that made the move to trade up to get him.
If the Cowboys again follow this pattern, who would be a prime candidate from this year’s draft class? Last month, we identified three other candidates who fit this profile. They include:
Today, we’re going to examine a player who could provide Dak Prescott with another offensive weapon.
TIGHT END, MICHAEL MAYER, NOTRE DAME
When you watch the 6’4”, 251-pound Mayer trample over would-be defenders it’s extremely hard for your mind not to immediately start drawing Rob Gronkowski comparisons. He’s a mammoth of a player who similarly appears slower because of his size, but once he gets going, his momentum causes all kinds of problems for opponents. And like the future Hall of Famer Gronk, Mayer is a superb contested pass catcher and does a fantastic job getting his big body contorted around to position himself for the catch. His concentration is top-notch and those long arms will snatch anything close.
Mayer is a complete tight end that does many things well. He’s not a blazer nor possesses shifty feet, but he’s a crafty route-runner that brings just enough wiggle to keep defenders guessing. And while his blocking isn’t top-level, he’s a strong guy who knows how to use his body to obstruct defenders. With this level of balance combined with some big-moment playmaking already on display, Mayer has the skills to be the next best tight end in the NFL.
Why he could slide to 26
This draft class contains a handful of NFL-ready starters so if a team has a need at tight end, they don’t necessarily have to address it early. This could drive some of the top prospects to the end of the first/early second round. Tights ends also come with a little bit of a learning curve versus hitting the ground running which further rationalizes why it’s not a highly coveted position. Mayer possesses a lot of strong qualities, but he’s not an athletic specimen. So, while the idea of Mayer being a special player is eye-raising, there could be some that think this Gronk-like hype is just a facade.
Why this makes sense for Dallas
The Cowboys are likely losing their top tight end Dalton Schultz to free agency. They have a couple of young players in Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot who have already shown to be viable contributors, but do they have what it takes to be dynamic players in this offense? Mayer brings that extra upside that could give Dak Prescott another target who can create his own mismatches. There have been exciting pass-catching tight ends like Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson that have come off the board early, but not many bring with them good blocking skills. The Cowboys love good blocking tight ends.