Notre Dame 2020 Draft Review: Bears select hometown kid in Kmet

Cole Kmet (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Cole Kmet (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Cole Kmet is going back home and will suit up for the Chicago Bears after his selection in the 2nd round in the 2020 NFL Draft.

While no Irish players were taken in the first round this year, it was known they had several players pushing for the late first round and early second-round consideration. With the Bears pick of Cole Kmet at number 43 overall, he was the first Notre Dame prospect taken, the first tight end off the board, and the highest tight end drafted out of Notre Dame since Tyler Eifert went in the first round in 2013.

Kmet joins a long list of Notre Dame starting tight ends drafted into the NFL, with every starter picked since the late 1990s. In the Brian Kelly era, Kmet joins Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack, Durham Smythe, and Alize Mack as NFL draft picks. The first three were all first or second-round selections as well.

Cole Kmet – The Notre Dame Standout

First off, ignore Cole Kmet’s college stats for a moment. During his sophomore season, he labored through an ankle injury that sidelined him for a few games and limited his speed and athleticism the entire year. It wasn’t until late in the season that he started to look himself in 2018. He also had Alize Mack running next to him, so waiting his turn was at least somewhat expected.

This past season, he missed the first few games with a broken collarbone, but outside of Chase Claypool, it was hard to pick out a more impactful player than Kmet once he joined the team for the Georgia game. In his 10 games, he averaged over four receptions and 45 yards while hauling in a Notre Dame record six touchdowns by a tight end in a single season.

It is fair to say he would have broken that record if he didn’t miss the first three games. His best game was his first game back against Georgia – where he caught nine balls for 108 yards and a score. He also had a four-game touchdown stretch from Bowling Green to Virginia Tech, and four games of at least five catches. He also averaged 12 yards per catch which is great for a tight end.

What Should Bears Fans Expect?

Standing at 6’6″ and over 260-pounds, Kmet is your traditional Y tight end in the NFL in the mold of former Notre Dame star Kyle Rudolph or Dallas Cowboys future Hall of Famer Jason Witten. While he is still raw as a blocker and route runner, Kmet will now focus on football alone where his natural abilities will really shine.

He’s not gonna wow you athletically like a Tyler Eifert did coming out of Notre Dame, and he’s not an Evan Engram type that should always be flexed out wide or in the slot. Though it should be noted that he ran a 4.70 second 40-yard dash time at the combine while pulling his hamstring in the process. His strengths as he continues to gain experience will be with his hand in the dirt as a traditional Y, but with the ability like the above-mentioned guys to be a threat in the passing game. Early on in his career, he should be a nice red-zone threat in Matt Nagy’s offense and someone that opposing defenses can’t ignore.

The Bears did a good job filling a position of need. Talk of ten tight ends on the roster is overblown. Tight end was a position of weakness for the Bears all last season and even with Jimmy Graham receiving a two-year deal this off-season, Nagy wants to play two tight end sets and Kmet gives them more of the dual-threat ability as a blocker and receiver.

The best way to describe Kmet on the football field is smooth and powerful. While he is not the fastest tight end, he doesn’t lumber and can’t pick up the YAC you want in a big guy.

The Bears did a great job grabbing a position of need while not reaching. Kmet was a late first, early second-round prospect and gets to enjoy going back home to Chicago – where he never strayed too far away from – and play for his childhood favorite franchise.

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