Raiders are the big winners of head-scratching Lions draft

The Las Vegas Raiders benefitted from the Detroit Lions’ draft, and managed to trade up for Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer in the second round.

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft was an eventful one, as there were plenty of surprising picks. One team that made two interesting picks were the Detroit Lions, who selected Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell with the 12th and 18th overall picks. The picks were criticized due to the value used on them. But both players are expected to make an impact at the NFL level, and the Lions obviously liked them enough to select them that highly.

Detroit’s interesting draft strategy continued in the second round. With the 34th overall pick, the Lions selected Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta. While LaPorta was a highly thought of prospect, Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, who was in contention to be the first tight end to be drafted, remained on the board.

That allowed the Las Vegas Raiders to pounce. They were able to negotiate a trade with the Indianapolis Colts for the 35th overall pick, in exchange for the 38th and 141st picks. That allowed them to select Mayer to be their new starting tight end.

Raiders capitalize on Lions’ drafting, trade up for Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

The Raiders had an obvious need at the position, as they traded Darren Waller to the New York Giants earlier this offseason. With a new quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, it certainly helps to give him an option down the middle of the field like Mayer.

Mayer is 6-foot-4 and weighs 249 pounds, and is a huge target for a quarterback that is tough to bring down. Ironically,’s Lance Zierlein gives him a pro comparison of former Raiders tight end Jason Witten.

In 12 games this past season, Mayer caught 67 passes for 809 yards and nine touchdowns. Overall in his three year tenure at Notre Dame, Mayer recorded 180 receptions for 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, LaPorta is coming off of his fourth season at Iowa. Of course, the Hawkeyes offense was not exactly known for it’s production. But, LaPorta was considered a Day 2 draft pick. And the Lions obviously sensed that he could be off the board by the next time they were on the clock, and decided to select him.

This past season, LaPorta recorded 58 receptions for 657 yards and one touchdown. Through four years, LaPorta posted 153 catches for 1,786 yards and five touchdowns.

Both the Lions and Raiders got the tight end they were looking to add to their rosters. The Raiders ought to be happy that they were able to move up earlier in the second round to select Mayer.

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