Mel Kiper Jr.’s 2023 NFL Mock Draft 4.0 – Cowboys and Raiders make strategic picks
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Cowboys pick Notre Dame Tight End Michael Mayer
Mel Kiper Jr. predicts that the Dallas Cowboys will select Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer with the 26th pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Mayer is a talented player who caught 180 passes for 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons with the Fighting Irish.
The Cowboys need a tight end and Mayer would be a good fit. He is compared to former Notre Dame standout Tyler Eifert, and is described as a dominant receiving tight end who has prototypical size and the traits to succeed.
Raiders choose Illinois Cornerback Devon Witherspoon
Kiper also predicts that the Las Vegas Raiders will select Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the seventh overall pick. Witherspoon is a talented player who was a consensus All-American and the Big Ten’s top defensive back in 2022.
The Raiders need to strengthen their secondary, having allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game (242.9) and ranking last in opponent quarterback rating (98.8) last season. Witherspoon is the top cornerback on Bleacher Report’s big board and has been compared to two-time Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander.
Cowboys and Raiders addressing clear areas of need
Both the Cowboys and the Raiders are focusing on clear areas of need with their draft picks. The Cowboys have not signed a tight end in free agency, making it likely they will address the position in the draft. The Raiders need to improve their secondary after struggling in that area last season. By selecting Mayer and Witherspoon respectively, both teams are addressing key needs and improving their chances of success in the upcoming season.
Availability of players a potential issue
There is a possibility that Mayer and Witherspoon may not be available for the Cowboys and the Raiders to select. Mayer is ranked as the No. 5 overall player on Bleacher Report’s 2023 big board, while Witherspoon is ranked No. 8. However, Kiper has ranked Mayer at No. 24 on his latest big board, down from 18th. While the rankings may differ, both players are highly regarded and could potentially be selected earlier than predicted.