After being selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Cole Kmet has been underwhelming in his brief time with the Bears. When the Chicago native was selected after recording an impressive season at Notre Dame, Bears fans expected him to be an immediate impact player. With Kmet, and any tight end for that matter, this just wasn’t the case. Here’s why 2022 will be different for Kmet:
1.) Past Tight End Seasons
In almost all cases, the tight end position takes a few years to develop. A player that comes to mind is Tony Gonzalez. Now, I’m not saying that Cole Kmet will turn out like Gonzalez or that he will play better than him this season but their early career stats are comparable. In his first season Gonzalez had 33 catches for 368 yards. In his second season he had 59 receptions for 621 yards. His third season he racked up 849 yards on 76 catches. In his fourth season he solidified himself as a top tight end and tallied 1203 yards on 93 catches.
Kmet’s first two seasons have consisted of 28 catches for 243 yards and 60 catches for 612 yards. These are scarily similar to Gonzalez’s stats in his first two seasons. Kmet has been called a bust more times than I can count and many have already given up on him. It is still way too early to start saying those things. If Kmet can stay on the same path of Gonzalez and go for 70-80 catches and 700-900 yards, it will show he is on his way to being a top tight end in this league.
2.) New Offensive Scheme
With a new head coach and offensive coordinator arriving in Chicago, Cole Kmet should be getting a lot more play time. This isn’t just catches and yards. The new Bears offense is going to be very run heavy and Kmet is the number one tight end. His job will be to block for the running backs and his quarterback, Justin Fields. If he can contribute to the offensive line throughout games, it will solidify the run game. We will also see more of him as he builds chemistry with Fields and builds his spot in this new offense. Hopefully the one place we don’t see him is in more tight end shovel passes.
3.) Lack of Depth
The Bears come into the training camp with one of the worst receiver rooms in the league. I personally believe they will overachieve everyone’s expectations and a big part of that will be Cole Kmet. With Darnell Mooney as the only truly proven receiver on the depth chart, Kmet will be able to step up in the offense and become Fields second favorite target. There is also a major drop off in talent behind Kmet in the tight end room. Ryan Griffin is the backup to Kmet. He has never had more than 450 yards in eight seasons. The lack of depth in the wide receiver and tight end rooms forces Kmet to rise up and prove his worth to the offense.