Less than one week remains until the 2023 NFL Draft and it seems that there's more uncertainty in the first round than there ever has been. Aside from Alabama's Bryce Young seemingly becoming a lock for selection at 1.01 to Carolina, there's more variation on consensus first-round boards and mocks than usual.
Just like last time in Mock 1.0, PFF's mock draft simulator was used. Stocks have risen and slid slightly since then for both the simulator and national media, so that was taken into account. The theory stays the same too: draft who the most likely pick at 21 is under the circumstances and build out the class from there. Without any further ado:
With the 21st pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer
Last simulation, wide receiver Jordan Addison was the most likely pick at 21 for me. In this simulation, he was off the board at #20 to Seattle. Go Figure. Texas' Bijan Robinson, the prince of the Chargers' draft Twitter, was off the board as well.
That left quite a few selections. Dalton Kincaid, Zay Flowers, Brian Branch, Michael Mayer, Quentin Johnston and a plethora of other first-round options were there for the taking. EDGE players like Will McDonald IV and Felix Anudike-Uzomah were available as well.
Considering the Chargers' draft history, Tom Telesco's historical preferences, and Kellen Moore's offensive retooling, Notre Dame's Mayer was the selection I landed on. In 2022, Mayer had 67 receptions for 809 yards. He led all tight ends in the country in yards per route run, even beating out Utah's Dalton Kincaid. He's an incredibly physical player and is without a doubt the best blocker in this class.
Why would the Chargers take Mayer? The Chargers love their high-floor prospects and Mayer fits that category. He's going to fit seamlessly at the next level with very little bust potential at a Chargers' position of need. In short, Mayer feels like the Rashawn Slater or Zion Johnson of this class for Los Angeles. He's not a sexy pick and doesn't play a sexy position. But he has great intangibles for pro production and plays a position of need. Telesco's love for Notre Dame prospects is also well-known at this point.
Telesco's draft history and what he likes in his players at each position comes into play here. Parsing things out a bit, Mayer fits the profile of what the Chargers look for physically a little bit more than Dalton Kincaid does. As it pertains to Flowers, are the Chargers more likely to take a 5'9" receiver or the 6'4" tight end? That's a very narrow way of looking at it, but Telesco has known preferences with his receiver types.
Finally, Mayer is the prospect that fits Moore's offense the most out of this group. The Chargers don't have a great inline blocker. Mayer provides that for them on top of his receiving ability. The Chargers will be living out of 12 personnel more than they have before and Mayer represents the best tight end in the draft who can help them with that.