Cole Kmet had a slow start to his rookie season last year. He didn’t score his first touchdown for the Bears until Week 6, and didn’t play more than 50% of the team’s snaps on offense until Week 10. It’s understandable as tight end is notoriously one of the hardest positions to learn in the NFL under normal circumstances, and last year’s summer program was anything but normal.
This year however, Kmet seems to be making up for that lost time, and even got in some bonus work at “Tight End University,” a summit of sorts for players trying to learn from each other, hosted by Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
“That was really cool,” Kmet said. “One of the coolest things I've done and get around all those guys. It's interesting, usually on a team you have one tight end, two tight ends maybe, and to get everyone together like that was really cool to just kind of feed off everybody else and see what other guys are doing.
“For me, watching receivers is nice, but I can't do the stuff that Darnell Mooney does. I'm just not that fast. So being able to go get guys like Mike Gesicki and Hunter Henry and Travis and George and Greg and learn from those guys, that's very beneficial for me.”
Going over technique, sharing training routines and all of that stuff is nice, but Kmet said one of the best things he learned was to take some liberties on the field to help himself play to his strengths.
“I think the big thing with Travis is don’t run the line in the book.” Kmet said. “And that’s a big deal with him. Stay on the quarterback’s timing and be where you have to be but be creative with your routes. Just as long as you’re on that quarterback’s timing and you get in the right spot and you’re open, I mean, no one’s going to say anything. Those are kind of the things that I took from, and you know releases and things like that were definitely beneficial.”
Even though Jimmy Graham is still in the fold as the Bears’ veteran tight end option, Kmet will have more opportunities to show what he learned from the league’s best in 2021.
“His role is definitely going to increase,” Matt Nagy said earlier this week. “He’s the type of kid that we have to sometimes protect him from himself because he wants so much. He wants to practice every route. He wants to practice every block that he can do on the edge with the tackles. You love that about him. Now that we know what he can handle, it makes it a lot easier to be able to use him. So he’s going to certainly be used more than he was last year.”
Kmet is ready to show what he can do with a full offseason under his belt, too.
“I think just the confidence level coming in right now, and knowing where I stand, and what I could do on the field, and what I’m capable of is a big deal.”