With all the talk about Jaylon Johnson, Darnell Mooney, and Trevis Gipson lately? It became easy to forget that Cole Kmet was actually the first pick of that 2020 draft class. The Notre Dame tight end didn’t set the world on fire from a statistical standpoint. He made just eight catches through his first 11 games. However, he came on strong down the stretch with 20 catches in the final five. Clear evidence of progression.
Now people are hoping he can take that critical next step in his development. Kmet seems to believe he can. He has put in a ton of work this offseason including some priceless days spent with All-Pros Travis Kelce and George Kittle at Tight End University. The 22-year old is more confident in his all-around game than ever. In fact, if you ask him about what happened last year? It sounds like he’s a bit salty. As if he thinks the Bears intentionally held him back from contributing more.
Check out his comments to Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic.
“I always felt like I was ready, but it’s part of the process of coming in as a rookie,” he said. “You’ve just got to stay ready and prepared. I think from their perspective, they kind of evaluated and saw where I was at and I was gaining trust with them. From there, it took off for the rest of the season.”
“You want to make an impact, but you just have to trust,” he said. “You have to give that up and trust the fact that these coaches are doing the best by you, which is also going to be the best for the team. It’s difficult at times, but you’ve got to be able to do that and realize it’s for the better.”
Given how he finished the season? What he is saying isn’t too difficult to understand. There were glimpses of what Kmet could do. People were constantly calling on the Bears to get him more involved. When they finally did? The offense scored 30 or more points four times. Sure he wasn’t the primary driving force but there is no doubt his involvement was a big part of it. This isn’t even mentioning how solid he was as a blocker.
Kmet logged 69 (nice) snaps in pass protection last season. All told, he allowed just four pressures and one sack on the quarterback. That is pretty impressive for a rookie and another reminder of how capable he is. The kid can run and catch passes or he can stay in and give a solid effort blocking your best pass rushers. This is why the Bears made him their priority in the draft last year.
Cole Kmet will need help from his quarterbacks
That was part of the problem last year as well. Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles usually didn’t look his way unless the plays were designed for him. This despite clear evidence he could make tough catches if given a chance. Perhaps Andy Dalton and/or Justin Fields will be different. Dalton has a solid track record of using the tight end. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert both made Pro Bowls with him at quarterback. The veteran is never afraid to throw it up and let his guy go get it.
Cole Kmet has a chance to alter a legacy that has haunted the Bears for some time. It feels like the team hasn’t had much luck drafting tight ends. It has been that way ever since Mike Ditka. When they finally got somebody good in Greg Olsen, they naturally traded him away to Carolina because he didn’t fit the offensive scheme. Evan Rodriguez and Adam Shaheen were fitting punishments for that blunder.
Can the local kid same his hometown team from this curse?
He doesn’t lack confidence. That is always vital in this league. The fact Kmet felt even as such a young rookie that he could’ve done more last year says a lot. He is a competitor. He believes in himself. All he needs is a chance to prove it.