Former NFL GM mocks Witten, Gronkowski TE clone to Cowboys at 26
Mike Tannenbaum still thinks like an NFL general manager. For over 20 years, that’s what he was paid to do, working on the player personnel and football operations side in the front offices of four different clubs.
So when he sits down to do a mock draft these days, he brings a different perspective than the pundits who are mainly trying to predict what will actually go down with each team’s pick. Tannenbaum puts himself “into the general manager’s chair” to determine his own picks and select the player he would take for each club if the decision were his to make.
Like many mocks, his is looking to the tight ends for Dallas with the 26th overall pick. But Tannenbaum has the Cowboys ending up with perhaps the best of the bunch in this year’s class, one whose NFL comparable should delight fans of America’s Team.
Tannenbaum’s GM mock has the Cowboys taking Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer with their first-round selection.
“I love this fit to replace Dalton Schultz. Mayer is 6-foot-5, blocks well and provides high-end receiving talent. He was very efficient last year with 67 catches, 809 yards, and 9 touchdowns — each of which ranked top three among FBS tight ends. Schultz accounted for 14.8% of the Cowboys’ receiving yards and scored five of their 28 passing touchdowns, but I think Mayer can immediately fill that void at a high level.”
Replacing Schultz has been a priority in many mock drafts this offseason despite promising rookie efforts from Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot last year. But Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is the name most so-called experts have paired up with the Cowboys. (Tannenbaum has him going 16th overall to Washington.)
Kincaid has yet to work out for teams and is still rehabbing a late-November back injury that kept him out of the Utes’ Rose Bowl appearance. Mayer, on the other hand, turned in impressive combine numbers in Indianapolis, looked very good at Notre Dame’s Pro Day last week, and says he has talked with every single NFL team ahead of next month’s draft.
Mayer got college offers from the cream of the college crop: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, and others in addition to Notre Dame. And all he did was deliver on those lofty expectations, finishing his Fighting Irish career with the most receptions ever by a Notre Dame tight end and tied for third among all pass-catchers in the program’s entire history with 180 grabs.
The Draft Network calls the 21-year-old Kentucky native “a pro-ready tight end prospect who appears poised to be an impact player at the NFL level” and compares him to none other than Cowboys legend Jason Witten.
Notre Dame fans, for what it’s worth, nicknamed him “Baby Gronk.”
It’s easy to get carried away with saying any college kid is “the next” anyone else, but if either of those evaluations are even partially true, Cowboys fans would no doubt be thrilled with the team using its first-round pick on a tight end for the first time in a quarter-century.
Now for all the league’s GMs to follow Tannenbaum’s thinking for the first 25 picks in order for Mayer to be there when Dallas goes on the clock…
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