SOUTH BEND – One of the big complaints by some with the Bears’ first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft was the fact that they were adding to an already crowded position.
When Cole Kmet’s name was read by commissioner Roger Goodell at the 43rd selection on Friday, he became the tenth tight end on the Bears’ roster. While Dax Raymond’s release on Monday brought that number down to nine, it makes for a sizable amount of people at one position.
Yet Brian Kelly doesn’t see that as a problem. After three years of coaching Kmet at Notre Dame, he sees no reason why he can’t stand out amongst the rest.
“They would not have drafted Cole Kmet if he was the tenth tight end. That’s a $3 million signing bonus or in the neighborhood of a $3 million dollar signing bonus. You don’t make those kind of investments unless you know what you’re getting,” said Kelly of Kmet. “What they’re getting is an athletic tight end that is going to impact their offense immediately. He’s smart. He’s got the capabilities to get better and better as he continues to develop.
Having a lot of tight ends on your roster is one thing. Having Cole Kmet, that’s another.”
Kelly has good reasons to be complimentary of his tight end, who played a big role in another ten-win season for Notre Dame in 2019. He made 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in his final year with the Fighting Irish, and even considered returning for another season.
It was a difficult decision, according to Kelly, since Kmet’s draft stock would have been high in 2021 and he could have returned to play baseball with his younger brother Casey.
Yet this was a good time for Kmet to start the next step of his career. Kelly said he’ll be able to work more on his route running and in-line blocking as he transitions to the NFL game, and if that comes together, he’s got high hopes for the tight end.
“I have Travis Kelce (Cincinnati), Tyler Eifert, Kyle Rudolph, Durham Smythe (Notre Dame). I’ve had a number of tight ends that are doing exceedingly well and have been All-Pros in the NFL,” said Kelly. “Cole Kmet will be in line with all of those guys.”
While having the ability to move to the front of the line on the Bears’ crowded tight end depth chart.