Bears

NFL Draft 2020: Why Bears envision Cole Kmet as key fix for Matt Nagy's offense

NFL Draft 2020: Why Bears envision Cole Kmet as key fix for Matt Nagy's offense

As ex-Bears tight end Trey Burton succinctly told me back in November: “Usually when this type of offense is doing well, the tight end’s doing well.”

The Bears’ offense was atrocious in 2019. It got next to nothing out of its tight ends. That’s not a coincidence.

It wasn’t the only reason why last year was so dismal, of course. But fixing that position was clearly at the top of Ryan Pace’s offseason to-do list.

So enter Demetrius Harris. Then Jimmy Graham. And now Cole Kmet with the 43rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Bears can envision Graham as their No. 1 at the “U” (move) spot vacated by Burton, who was cut last week. Harris and Kmet should be the primary “Y” (in-line) guys, supplanting Adam Shaheen, who was on borrowed time in Chicago even before the Kmet pick.

The goal for the Bears is not just to get better production from their tight ends. The goal is to make Matt Nagy’s offense operate better.

Consider this: The Bears used 12 personnel (two tight ends, two receivers, one back) on just 13% of their plays in 2019. That was the third-lowest in the league. The two offenses most similar to Nagy’s, the Eagles and Chiefs, were top five in the league in using 12 personnel (Philadelphia was first, Kansas City was fifth).

Don’t worry about the mountain of tight ends on the Bears’ roster right now. That number will obviously be trimmed as the offseason rolls on and then into training camp. It’s easy to poke fun at the Bears for that, but it doesn’t really matter much here.

Kmet was the best tight end available in this year’s draft, and has the athletic and physical profile to succeed in the NFL. Kmet ran a 4.7 40-yard dash — impressive given his 6-foot-5, 262 pound frame.

So you can see what the Bears saw in Kmet, and how they envision him bringing out the best in Nagy’s offense. But drafting tight ends with high picks is a risky game. Over the last decade, tight ends taken in the first two rounds have, as rookies, averaged 27 catches, 306 yards and 3 TDs.

We probably need to temper expectations for Kmet in Year 1. But if he can prove worthy of even just being on the field (meaning he can block and be a reliable enough pass catcher), it could pay off in a big way for the Bears.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Madden 21 rating leaks: Chicago Bears Top-10 overall rated players

Madden 21 rating leaks: Chicago Bears Top-10 overall rated players

As Madden 21 ratings continue to leak out, one site claims to have gotten a hold of the Top-10 players for each team. According to Madden School, a website that says they’ve served the Madden community for 13 years, the Bears only have one player rated over 90-- Khalil Mack at 97. That’s one point lower than where Mack finished the season on Madden 20.

Here’s the full list for the Bears:

Khalil Mack: 97 overall

Eddie Jackson: 89 overall

Allen Robinson: 89 overall

Akiem Hicks: 88 overall

Kyle Fuller: 85 overall

Eddie Goldman: 84 overall

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

Roquan Smith: 83 overall

Robert Quinn: 82 overall

Charles Leno Jr.: 81 overall

Cody Whitehair: 81 overall

It’s important to note that none of these numbers came with picture or video evidence from early copies of the game.

Unsurprisingly, only one offensive skill player cracked the Top-10 for the Bears, Allen Robinson. Equally unsurprising is the fact that seven of the Top-10 are on defense.

EA Sports began releasing the official Madden 21 ratings on Monday, and will continue to do so through Friday.


RELATED: Madden 21 rating leaks: Another source says Khalil Mack may have lost elite 99-overall status

SUBSCRIBE TO THE UNDER CENTER PODCAST FOR FREE.

Here's where Maurice Jones-Drew ranks David Montgomery among NFL running backs

Here's where Maurice Jones-Drew ranks David Montgomery among NFL running backs

Former NFL running back and current NFL Network personality, Maurice Jones-Drew, published his ranking of the top-32 running backs in the NFL on Monday and, of course, the Bears didn't get much love. To be more specific, David Montgomery was downright disrespected.

To be fair, MJD's assessment (or ranking) of Montgomery wasn't entirely based on No. 32's talent. Instead, it appears the Bears' offense -- and Matt Nagy -- is why Jones-Drew isn't high on the former Iowa State star.

Montgomery checked-in at No. 27 on MJD's list.

Montgomery's success depends on whether or not Matt Nagy wants to run the ball. They abandoned the run game week after week in 2019, and it showed in the team's 8-8 record. I'm expecting Montgomery to get the bulk of the carries and Tarik Cohen to continue to be frequently used in certain packages. The second-year back can do a little bit of everything, but needs Nagy to commit to running the rock.

It's hard to tell whether or not MJD believes Montgomery has the talent to be a top-10 running back in the NFL. He describes him as a player who can do 'a little bit of everything,' but doesn't necessarily suggest he can do any one thing really well. There are a lot of running backs in the NFL who fit that description, and they're normally playing backup to starter with a stronger skill set.

Running backs who were ranked in the same range as Montgomery included James Conner (Steelers, No. 25) and Sony Michel (Patriots, No. 26). Detroit's Kerryon Johnson was 28th.

Whether you take MJD's list seriously or put any weight into it at all is your call. But keep this in mind: he said he'd rank himself similarly to Adrian Peterson (23rd) if he decided to come out of retirement in 2020. 

As for Montgomery, it's fair to question his long-term outlook considering the narrative around the running back position. It isn't all that difficult to find a quality starter, and with next offseason presenting a potentially historic class of available running backs, Montgomery is certainly on the hot seat. He ran for just 889 yards as a rookie in 2019.

Preseason rankings are fun exercises to evaluate the landscape of the league, but they're also extremely volatile. Montgomery can quickly become one of the most respected running backs in the NFL if he gets off to a hot start early in the 2020 season.