We are still waiting on the debut of rookie tight end Michael Mayer as he works his way back from an injury. While it doesn’t appear serious, Mayer did not play in Week 1 of the preseason and has missed a lot of practice time over the last few months.
However, you can make a case that Mayer is the most important rookie for the Raiders going into the season. He is replacing Darren Waller and the Raiders need him to be productive right away as both a receiver and as a blocker.
In a recent article by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, he named each team’s most pivotal rookie heading into the 2023 season. For the Raiders, that player was none other than Mayer, as he is projected to be the team’s starting tight end in Week 1:
With No. 7 overall pick Tyree Wilson still inactive following two surgical procedures on his foot, it is looking more and more like Las Vegas’ second-round pick will be the pivotal rookie.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a game manager who must be supported by solid structure and scheme. Mayer is a plus blocker who can help soften the edges in the run game. Not to mention, he’s a big, reliable target for the Raiders’ two-TE sets.
The expectation is that Mayer will be ready for Week 1, but it would be nice to see him on the field in the preseason. Mayer was a pro-ready prospect, but missing this much practice time might end up causing him to be behind the 8-ball a little bit to start the year.
Still, the Raiders are very optimistic about his future and fit with the team. Mayer should be a longtime starter for the Raiders for the foreseeable future.