2023 NFL Draft: Did the Las Vegas Raiders get it right at No. 35?

2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 / David Eulitt/GettyImages

With their first pick on Day 2, the Las Vegas Raiders take one of the surprise fallers of the first round in Michael Mayer from Notre Dame.

The Las Vegas Raiders didn't wait long on day 2 to get things started as they traded up to pick 35 to draft tight end, Michael Mayer.

After trading Darren Waller, the Raiders needed to find a long-term solution at the tight-end position, and Mayer had all the tools to do so. And it appears the Raiders were so convinced that they could afford to wait for a few more picks.

So the question is, did the Raiders get the pick right?

Given the tight ends they brought in, I'm not sure the Raiders should have made that position their top priority on day 2, but in terms of getting the best available, this was a good move by Las Vegas.

Mayer has been one of the best pass catchers in college football from the moment he stepped on campus for Notre Dame. And he leaves as the school's all-time leader in receptions. So in terms of production, it does not get any better.

On top of that, Mayer is a willing blocker, allowing the Raiders to keep him on the field in multiple formations and use him as a true asset in the run game, which is not something they had with Waller.

Now the only issue I see with Mayer is the lack of high-end athleticism, he is a savvy route runner, which helps him create separation, but he is not going to stretch vertically. However, he is a contested catch machine that can help Jimmy Garoppolo win in the middle of the field.

It'll be interesting to see what the Raiders do with Austin Hooper and OJ Howard because Mayer seems like a guy you plug-in-play from day one.

Will one of them be on the chopping block during training camp?

I would have liked the Raiders to address the secondary cause they are so thin, but Mayer is a very good player that can make an immediate impact. So although I'm not in love with the pick, it makes complete sense in terms of getting the best available. The Raiders may have got the best in a class that is incredibly deep at tight end.

And I trust Josh McDaniels to get the most out of Mayer.