Overview: Michael Mayer's projected NFL Draft slide confounds Notre Dame teammate

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Kevin Bauman is admittedly biased, but from his insider’s perspective NFL teams are guilty of classic overthinking when it comes to Michael Mayer’s sliding draft stock.

After watching Mayer break every significant record for Notre Dame tight ends, Bauman can’t believe his position mate and close friend won’t be the first tight end selected Thursday night in Kansas City.

“I can't wrap my head around that one,” Bauman said recently. “Personally, I think a lot of people think that it's a no-brainer: He should be the first guy off the board (among tight ends).”

Nov 13, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Michael Mayer (87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne (10) and Fighting Irish tight end Kevin Bauman (84) against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sportsa

Instead, that honor keeps going to Utah’s Dalton Kincaid in those ubiquitous mock drafts that keep circulating. The Green Bay Packers, who own the 13th overall pick in Thursday’s first round after trading Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets, appear to be the top landing spot for Kincaid.

Mayer? He might have to wait until somewhere in the 20s — maybe the Los Angeles Chargers (21st), Jacksonville Jaguars (24th), Dallas Cowboys (26th) or his hometown Cincinnati Bengals (28th).  

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Bauman’s advice to NFL general managers?

“You take a look at his game film the past three years,” he said. “You take a look at his testing numbers and things he did at the combine, the things he did at pro day. Not to mention his knowledge of the game and the characteristics he brings.

“He's a well-rounded guy, a great personality. He brings all those traits that are desirable to a team. I think it's kind of crazy, but you know it's all going to work out for him.”

Notre Dame football's record draft total

At 6-foot-4 ½ and 249 pounds, Mayer should become Notre Dame’s seventh all-time first-round pick at the tight end position. Tyler Eifert, who went 21st overall to the Bengals in 2013, is the only former Irish tight end to go in the first round since Irv Smith went to the New Orleans Saints in 1993.

Notre Dame enters the three-day, seven-round festival of hope with 522 all-time NFL draftees, three more than national runner-up USC.

Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert picks up extra yards as he is wrestled down by Wake Forest's Mike Olson during the game at Notre Dame Stadium in this 2012 file photo. Eifert was the most recent Notre Dame tight end to be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2013. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

Just two Irish products were selected last spring – first-round safety Kyle Hamilton and fifth-round running back Kyren Williams – matching the 2017 draft class for Notre Dame’s thinnest since seventh-round tight end Ben Kovack was the lone selection in 2015.

Isaiah Foskey, Jarrett Patterson also wait for draft news

In addition to Mayer, edge rusher Isaiah Foskey is projected for Day 2, meaning a second- or third-round pick; while offensive guard/center Jarrett Patterson and safety Brandon Joseph could hear their names announced on Saturday, likely in Round 5 or later.

Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey goes through a drill Friday, March 24, 2023, at Notre Dame Pro Day activities in South Bend.

Notre Dame products who could sign as undrafted free agents — if they don’t get a pleasant surprise in the late rounds — include defensive end Justin Ademilola, defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola, linebacker Bo Bauer, offensive lineman Josh Lugg, defensive tackle Chris Smith, kicker Blake Grupe, safety Houston Griffith and wide receiver Avery Davis.

“I’ve been learning about all the NFL’s offenses, how they’re kind of different from us but at the same time they’re kind of the same,” Mayer said at Notre Dame’s Pro Day. “There’s a lot of shifts and motions in the NFL, I’ll tell you that, and I’ve got a little taste of it just going in these meetings.”

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Whatever happens Thursday night, Mayer is just looking forward to the realization of a boyhood dream.

“I’m excited to find my city, find my home and start learning the playbook and just start getting after it,” he said. “It’s been a long process. I’m ready to start playing some ball.”

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.