Cole Kmet’s draft night was incredibly special for him and his family, as Ryan Pace brought the Arlington Heights native back home to play for his beloved Bears. Pace, of course, is hoping that Kmet can be part of the solution to the troubled tight end position, which has been a mostly-unproductive revolving door during his time as GM.
Every pick of the draft is met with plenty of analysis online and on social media, and the Kmet selection was no different. However, this tweet from NBC Sports’ Chris Simms stood out in the moments following the Bears picking Kmet 43rd overall:
My Man Cole Kmet is a super star. He can be Gronkowski. Still Raw. Only gonna get bigger and stronger.— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) April 25, 2020
Lofty comparisons are not uncommon on draft night; plenty of highly-drafted tight ends in recent years have been compared to Gronk, but no one has truly been able to live up to it (Adam Shaheen, anyone?). However, as Simms explained to JJ Stankevitz on the Under Center podcast, there’s a bit more nuance to the comparison that 280 characters doesn’t leave space for on Twitter.
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“Yeah, I compared him to Rob Gronkowski, and Rob Gronkowski is the greatest tight end of all time,” Simms said. “But I’m just trying to paint a picture for people out there; I’m not saying this kid’s going to be that, but he’s got big-time potential is what I am saying.
“I think the Bears need to find that physicality aspect of their offense, and Kmet will be a great advantage not only in the run game, but once teams start worrying about the run game, that’s where the tight end like a Rob Gronkowski in New England gets behind the linebackers and splits the safeties in the middle of the field.
“Cole Kmet is going to be a tremendous red zone target; he is a mismatch nightmare, and I think you’ll be able to do a lot of the same things Kansas City does with Travis Kelce, or Gronkowski and what the Patriots did with him, except he’s a better blocker than Travis Kelce.
“I am very excited about Cole Kmet. I think the Bears really got two first-rounders with their two second-round picks, and that excites me as far as that’s concerned.”
Simms isn’t making a flippant comparison, either; he knows the former Irish tight end better than most due to his work as an analyst for Notre Dame football on NBC over the last two years, and local product from St. Viator stood out for all the right reasons.
“He’s one of the more impressive players, in general, that I’ve seen on the field, whether it was on Notre Dame or one of their opponents, in college football. To be that size, 6’5”, 260 pounds, and be able to move the way he moves, there are not a lot of people on Planet Earth that are that gifted and athletic.
“Fluid route-runner, fearless over the middle with people around him, really good run-blocker in the run game, and he’s been playing baseball the last few years in the spring, so he hasn’t even gone all-in on football yet, nor do I think he’s done growing and filling out.”
The Bears certainly hope focusing on football full-time will have a positive effect on Kmet’s developmental arc, as tight ends coach Clancy Barone told reporters in a Zoom session last week. After all, the revolving door has to stop at some point - and if Kmet is able to develop into a star tight end, the 43rd pick will have been a small price to pay.