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Initial thoughts on Raiders trade up for Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer

Great value

NFL: Combine
Michael Mayer
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders shook up the draft by making a trade to draft standout Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer.

The Raiders sent the No. 38 and No. 141 picks to the Indianapolis Colts to draft Mayer at No. 35.

Let’s look at what the selection means:

Great value:

Mayer was expected to be a first-round pick. A lot of folks pegged him to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 26. He slid and the Raiders jumped up to get him. They were reportedly trying to trade up in the first round Thursday night and earlier in the second round. He was probably the target in the earlier talks.

Worth the trade:

Las Vegas only gave up a fifth-round pick to make this deal. They still have No. 70 and No. 100 in the third round Friday night and nine total picks left. This is so worth it.

Run on tight ends:

This is considered the best tight end class in a decade. The Raiders had other needs, but the run on tight ends had started and the Raiders jumped at Mayer. That’s how you’re supposed to run your draft board. Mayer was the third tight end taken.

Waiting on quarterback:

The Raiders chose Mayer over Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker. The Raiders will likely take a quarterback, but for now, they wait.

Future starter:

Free-agent veterans Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard signed one-year deals, so Mayer will be the starter in 2024. Tight end is a position where it often takes time to produce, so Mayer can slowly come along in 2023.

Total rebuild at position:

Out are Darren Waller and Foster Moreau, in are Hooper, Howard and Mayer.

What to expect:

Mayer isn’t super fast, but he’s strong in the red zone and he is a quality blocker as well.

Good fit:

He’s been compared to Hunter Henry, who Josh McDaniels coached in New England. He fits this system and we all know McDaniels’ loves his tight ends. Plus, new Las Vegas starter Jimmy Garoppolo works well with tight ends.

What’s next:

They need a cornerback and linebacker. Maybe that comes at No. 70 and No. 100.