Comp Picks is a season-long, weekly series that looks at the incoming rookie class from all angles, tying everything together with an NFL player comparison (or a combination of players) to contextualize upside and risk.
Junior, 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds
Michael Mayer has always been good at football. He was so good, in fact, that he won Gatorade Kentucky Football Player of the Year as a tight end and linebacker as a senior in high school. He caught 45 balls for 902 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding 90 tackles and four interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. Those accolades earned him the top spot in 247Sports Kentucky recruiting rankings, a five-star designation, and the 32nd-best national ranking. Since arriving at Notre Dame, Mayer has only produced. He recorded 42 receptions for 450 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. In each of the last two seasons, Mayer eclipsed 800 yards. He caught 138 balls and scored sixteen total touchdowns over the previous two seasons. As a recruit, Mayer weighed 232 pounds. His 265-pound designation indicates he took advantage of the weight program at Notre Dame, but it also gave him added durability to sustain the rigors of a 12-game season. Mayer never missed a game in his collegiate career.
While some tight end prospects benefit from talent around them, Mayer is the inverse - he makes his teammates look better. The Notre Dame offense went as far as he would take them, and his consistent target-share dominance led to positive results for the Fighting Irish. Mayer is a fantastic athlete, albeit not an elite one. He has the lower-body flexibility of a 232-pound tight end, giving him a massive upside as a route runner. He consistently wins from every alignment but excels when lined up in the slot. Mayer possesses the versatility to split out wide and win with twitch and the physicality to win from in-line alignments. When targeted, he has consistently sticky hands, hauling in circus and simple catches. He's skilled at utilizing his large frame to shield defenders and is strong when getting his hands up. Even when covered, Mayer regularly shows hands late, making it difficult for defenders to come away with a pass breakup. He can win at all three field levels, excelling specifically in the intermediate areas but having the ability to win at the catch point downfield. Mayer is an adequate blocker, giving him the ultimate ability to be an immediate-impact player once he reaches the NFL.
While Mayer doesn't possess many weaknesses, he isn't an elite athlete. Dynasty managers expecting a Kyle Pitts-level season of workouts will be disappointed. That does give him a ceiling as a yards-after-the-catch player. But as mentioned above, he is an above-average athlete with incredible skill, and his ability to be a chain-mover will render that perceived weakness irrelevant.
The Comp Pick: Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
Zach Ertz wasn't the most outstanding athlete of all time as a prospect, but he built his success with a consistent display of skill. Ertz is a remarkable route runner, winning at each field level. He wins with possession-style play but can stretch the field and win at the catch point. Ertz was the focal point of the Eagles' passing attack for many years, posting regular top-twelve seasons and sustaining a large workload. Mayer has a similar playstyle, though he possesses more upside as a blocking tight end and plays with more physicality. Mayer projects as a slightly better athlete, though he's slower than Ertz after the catch. Ertz's consistency inside the Top 12 contextualizes the upside Mayer maintains.
With the current state of tight ends in the NFL, dynasty managers should consider Mayer a top-ten option immediately upon his arrival. Mayer's versatility, combined with the virtual guarantee that he receives first-round draft capital, ensures that he will be an immediate contributor at the next level. His blocking ability will keep him on the field, and he has immense upside as a receiving threat. In tight-end premium formats, Mayer shouldn't last past the 1.08. In PPR, Mayer should still sneak into the back of the first round. After showing he can be the focal point of an offense, it's easy to see a path where he becomes that for an NFL team. The only question mark remaining for Mayer is where he'll put up top-five fantasy seasons for the next decade.
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