Will 2022 be the year that tight end Cole Kmet finally breaks out for the Chicago Bears?
Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet has quietly become the second best receiver on the team and projects as one of the best TEs in the league in 2022. Bears fans are a demanding group, not of their quarterbacks, but every other position you better show up and contribute immediately or you’re a bum. Such is the case for the second year TE coming out of Notre Dame. Kmet, who despite ranking 12th in the league in yards among TEs is already being talked about as a bust.
The expectation is that Kmet should have been elite immediately instead of growing into the position. Kmet instead has played a secondary role to the now departed Jimmy Graham especially in the red-zone. But Kmet is no slouch, racking up 60 catches for 612 yards in his second season. Like it or not, that’s strong production for a second year TE.
So why is Cole Kmet not receiving the respect he deserves heading into his third season in Chicago? Simple, he’s not well-respected among national publications and analysts. Everywhere you look Kmet is ranked among the lower end of TEs throughout the league. Kmet’s biggest flaw is simple, he had two touchdowns as a rookie, and zero TDs in his second year.
That’s an issue, but one that can be explained by former Bears head coach Matt Nagy’s obsession with Jimmy Graham. Last year Kmet did all the dirty work and then when the Bears had a red-zone chance he would immediately be supplanted for Graham.
Now with Graham gone, Kmet should immediately step into his own. He’s also fully capable at producing at a top level among TEs in the NFL. The top players are easy to recognize, basically it’s Travis Kelce and everyone else. Kelce is the greatest TE to ever play the game and it’s not even close. Rob Gronkowski held that designation, but Kelce has far surpassed Gronk. Kelce is the only TE in the history of the NFL with six straight seasons of 1,000 yard or more among TEs.
The only other TE in recent memory to accomplish as much is Greg Olsen who was the first TE in NFL history with three straight seasons of 1,000 yards receiving. Not even Gronk had three straight years of 1,000 yards or more. Among the current crop of great TEs not one has posted three straight 1,000 yard seasons, other than Kelce.
So the ceiling Kmet needs to get to is not much higher than the production of the best TEs in the NFL right now. If Kmet gets up to between 800 and 1,000 yards in his third season with six to ten TDs he will be as productive as the current crop of best TEs have been over the last three seasons.
That’s a low bar to get to as he continues to develop with now full-time starting quarterback Justin Fields. Kmet’s third year is the year he should take that next big step. He’s shown he can play at this level as a blocker and now as he presses forward as a receiver he likely catapults himself into the conversation as one of the best in the game.
It’s a hard pill to swallow that Kmet is the second best receiving option on the Bears and will be key to the Bears’ offense success. Once Kmet starts putting the ball in the end-zone he’ll start living up to the lofty expectations Bears fans have of him as a second round drafted TE.
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