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RAIDERS NATION

HEART BREAKS: Michael Mayer and Brooks Bowers had just been fired failing to complete their team task

With the Las Vegas Raiders spending a second-round pick on tight end Michael Mayer during last year’s NFL Draft and then using a first-rounder on tight end Brock Bowers last week, naturally, the question arises of how both players can coexist in the offense.

It’s a completely rational inquiry to have, but while Mayer and Bowers play the same position, they have different skill sets that complement each other.

Here, we’ll take a look at several elements that tight ends are asked to do and touch on the different roles the Georgia and Notre Dame products can play in the Raiders’ offense moving forward.

Run blocking is Mayer’s biggest competitive advantage over Bowers. The former is bigger, measuring in at 6-foot-4.5 and 249 pounds while the latter was 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds at the NFL Combine. Also, Mayer was likely trying to slim down to improve his speed for the event — the Raiders currently list him at 265 pounds — while Bowers needed to bulk up.

Additionally, the former Golden Domer earned an 82.1 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus during his final college season. While he struggled in this department at the beginning of his rookie year, he made significant steps toward the end of the campaign. Meanwhile, the former Bulldog posted a mark of 62.4 in 2023.

Also, this was one of the few knocks on Bowers as a prospect. Granted, he was an effective blocker in the ground game on crack tosses or pin-and-pull concepts, but that was when Georgia split him out wide rather than inline blocking.

While Bowers is labeled as a tight end, he actually spent less than 50 percent of his total snaps last season lined up as a tight end — about 48.3 percent, per PFF. He was used in a variety of alignments, most notably spending roughly 37.9 percent of his time as a slot receiver and 9.2 percent outside.

Mayer was much more of a traditional tight end at Notre Dame, logging nearly 62 percent of his reps at that spot in 2022 with just 27.0 percent coming as a slot receiver. Granted, his usage outwide was similar to Bowers, about 8.4 percent.

In Las Vegas last season, the 2023 second-round pick saw his inline snaps go up to roughly 73.4 percent and slot snaps dip down to about 19.9 percent. So, in addition to standard two-tight end formations, this is one way offensive coordinator Luke Getsy can get both guys on the field at the same time since the rookie has plenty of experience as an inside receiver.

Also, for what it’s worth, Bowers took about four percent of his snaps in the backfield if Getsy wants to get even more creative and add a few wrinkles.

While run blocking is Mayer’s biggest competitive advantage over Bowers, the script flips when it comes to being a route runner. That’s not to say the former is bad by any means, but the latter runs routes more like a wide receiver than he does like a tight end. He’s faster and more explosive than his new counterpart, allowing him to be better at creating separation.

A good example of this is Bowers’ targets in Athens last season were spread out with 12.7 percent (nine targets) coming on deep routes, 25.4 percent (18) on medium routes, 22.5 percent (16) for the short area, and 39.4 percent (28) behind the line of scrimmage, per PFF. Mayer’s 2022 figures in college were 10.9 percent (11), 23.8 percent (24), 48.5 percent (49) and 16.8 percent (17) for the same respective categories.

An important piece of context to keep in mind for those numbers is Bowers only played in 10 games while Mayer participated in 12 which is why the volume stats might be a little head-scratching.

The biggest disparity between the two players is that Mayer is much more reliant on short targets as the numbers above show. That was the case even more during his rookie season as a whopping 67.6 percent (25) of his targets came zero to nine yards past the line of scrimmage.

So, the data and skill sets suggest the rookie can be used down the field more which could help open things up for the second-year pro underneath.

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