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Establishing Realistic Expectations for Cole Kmet

| May 13th, 2020


The Bears spent their first pick (43rd overall) on Cole Kmet, a big tight end from Notre Dame who has a chance to plug a Bears’ roster hole from day one.

It should be noted, however, that tight end is a position where conventional wisdom says it’s hard to make a big impact in your rookie season due to a steep learning curve. In order to establish realistic expectations for Kmet, let’s take a look at how comparable tight ends have fared in their first few years of the NFL.

In order to do so, I looked at all 18 tight ends drafted in the 2nd round between 2010-19. I tracked their playing time and statistical contributions on offense after extrapolating to a full 16 game season to normalize the data since several players missed games with injuries.

The full data can be seen here, but I’m just going to show the range of snaps played, targets earned, passes caught, and receiving yards, which can be seen in the table below.



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Ranking the Potential 2020 Impact of This Draft Class

| April 30th, 2020

This column does not seek to project the impact these players will have long-term.

This column seems to project the impact these players will have this coming season, assuming the summer’s off-season program will be truncated or non-existent.


(7) Arlington Hambright, G

An athletic freak but a true offensive line project. The work/coaching he’d require to get on the field in 2020 simply won’t be available this summer. If he plays a snap during the regular season, something has gone terribly wrong.

But the Bears should put him on the roster. And they should sell the jerseys on the homepage of their website.


(6) Lachavious Simmons, G

Simmons gets the nod over Hambright for two reasons: (1) he’s got a bit of mauler in him and (2) his transition to guard at the next level will be easier. Again, it’s unlikely Simmons plays a down this season. But it’s more likely for him than Hambright.


(5) Trevis Gipson, Edge

The raw talent is there but Gipson’s 2020 role will almost assuredly be limited to sub-down, pass rushing situations. And with Mack and Quinn WELL ahead of him in the pecking order, the Bears would be happy if Gipson saw limited defensive snaps this season, while making his presence felt on special teams.


(4) Kindle Vildor, CB

Buster Skrine is still the starting slot corner. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Vildor backing up that role very early on in his career. My guess is Vildor surprises many and is active on most game days.


(3) Cole Kmet, TE

There’s been a lot of talk about tight ends struggling to assimilate to the NFL. And big, physical players like Kmet are asked to do a lot more than stand up, run fast and catch passes.

Jason Witten had 35 catches his rookie season. Kyle Rudolph had 26. Kmet, especially at his position, could use a full summer slate of practices and preseason games. If he doesn’t get it, hard to think he’ll be be more than a 30-35 catch, 400 yard, 4-5 touchdown player in his rookie campaign.

But I think that’d be a brilliant sign for his future.

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While the League Zigs, the Bears Will Zag in 2020

| April 28th, 2020

“When They Zig, You Zag”

-Siimon Reynolds


The Zag.

As the rest of the National Football League tries to get faster, the Chicago Bears added a 260-pound tight end with their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Then they raved about his potential as a blocker.

The Bears are doing something very different in 2020.

According to Sharp Football, the Bears ran ’12’ personnel – one RB, two TEs and WRs – on just 13 percent of their snaps in 2019 and 17 percent in 2018. The drafting of Cole Kmet with the 43rd pick was a clear indication that the Bears are going to use the second tight end more. Way more.

After making the pick, GM Ryan Pace raved about Kmet’s all-around ability. He spoke about his size, hands and ability to “post up” and get position. But where Pace really got excited was talking about run blocking. “He’s got the frame and the size, the temperament and the demeanor where we think he’s going to get a lot better as a blocker,” Pace said.

In many ways, the drafting of Kmet was a commitment to a different style of offense, one that will surely feature running back David Montgomery more.

Playing Big.

The Bears didn’t play big in 2019 because they couldn’t succeed that way.

They didn’t have a single, good tight end.

The team passer rating in ’12’ personnel was below 70 and they averaged fewer than four yards per carry. The hope is that Kmet’s ability as a blocker and a receiver makes ’12’ personnel package dangerous.

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On Ryan Pace’s Sturdy, Steady Second-Round Selections

| April 26th, 2020


On Friday night, I floated the idea of the Bears trading back in the second round to a friend of mine – a scout for another team in the NFC. He quickly shot back, “Pace shouldn’t back up too far. After about 65, there’s a big drop-off in this class.”

This is the kind of things scouts love to say.

Is it true? Who the hell knows? But what is important is the perception of its truth. If my scout friend believes the 2020 NFL Draft was 65 players deep, so does his organization. If his organization believes that, rest assured it is common throughout the league.

Thus, there was not much jockeying for position in the first and second rounds this year. Teams believed they would get a terrific prospect no matter where they selected. Maybe Ryan Pace had offers, maybe he didn’t. We won’t know and he won’t tell us. And now, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is how Pace approached the second round. His two selections – Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet and Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson – were not reaches. They were not gambles on potential, on athletic ability. They were two of the steadiest, sturdiest prospects in the whole of this draft. Immediately after their selection, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah pronounced, “No first-round pick for the Bears but I think you can argue they got two first-round players.” Every relevant person I texted with Friday night seemed to echo this sentiment.

These are the kinds of picks a team confidently makes when they think they are close. And the Bears are close, especially with Nick Foles’ professionalism taking over under center. The club had needs for September: defensive back, interior offensive line, tight end, speed outside. They addressed two of them. Simple as that. Kmet and Johnson will expected to contribute/start immediately. I’ll state that again. Kmet and Johnson will expected to contribute/start immediately.

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