Our wait is almost over, folks. The 2023 NFL Draft is starting on Thursday night in Kansas City. Shortly after Round 1 kicks off at 8 p.m. ET, we’ll find out who Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll, and the Giants take with the 25th overall pick in the first round.
In the final days leading up to the league’s tentpole offseason event, we’ll continue getting final mock drafts before seeing things happen for real. NBC Sports’ Peter King shared his first-round mock in a recent Football Morning in America article.
He had the Jets taking an offensive tackle at 13th overall, which isn’t surprising. Many are assuming Big Blue will take aim at the best wide receiver or cornerback still on the board once it’s their pick. But King doesn’t think so based on how things played out in his mock.
In this scenario, King has New York taking Notre Dame tight end, Michael Mayer. Here are his thoughts on that (which was easily his longest write-up among the final 12 first-round picks):
Six years ago, the Giants took tight end Evan Engram 23rd overall, and Engram never matched the lofty draft status. In Mayer, New York hopes to find a consistent weapon for Daniel Jones—to pair with Darren Waller at first, then to shine when Waller, entering his age-31 season, is done.
Mayer, of course, could go higher—anywhere from 15 to 24. The Giants would be comfortable with a corner if Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks is there, a wideout if Jordan Addison or another outside receiver is there, and maybe even an interior lineman. It’s a long shot, but the talent of Bijan Robinson or Jahmyr Gibbs also might tempt GM Joe Schoen, with the long-term uncertainty of Saquon Barkley hanging over the franchise.
I’d love to go receiver here. But adding Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson (slot), and Parris Campbell in the last year makes receiver still a group of need but not a must-pick here. Interesting thing about Mayer is the book on him: He caught at least one pass in every one of his 36 games at Notre Dame, is the all-time leading tight end in receptions in the rich tradition of Irish football, might be a better blocker than pass-catcher, and missed just one game (groin strain) due to injury in three years. Daniel Jones could use a security blanket in the short and intermediate areas, and Waller and Mayer would give him two.
If this were to take place, it’d be interesting to see where tight end Daniel Bellinger plays into all this. During his rookie season in 2022, he appeared to be Jones’ security blanket at times with a banged-up wide receiver room. Across 12 games, Bellinger caught 30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns.
King’s prediction would surely be a curveball if Mayer is still on the board once everyone’s focus turns to the Giants on Thursday. I mean, who knows, right? NFL Network’s James Palmer said that “nobody knows” what’s going to happen this year. So I suppose everything is on the table.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.