Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet to Chicago Bears: Why this Does/Doesn’t Make Sense


In terms of pure value, the Chicago Bears selecting Notre Dame tight Cole Kmet with the 43rd overall pick in the NFL Draft tonight was a really solid selection. The Lake Barrington, IL native is a blue chip prospect, arguably the best tight end in the draft, having absolutely crushed it at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

This now means that every opening day starter at tight end for Notre Dame, going all the way back to Anthony Fasano in 2005, has been draft. It also means that 11 Fighting Irish tight ends have been drafted in the first two rounds all time. However, if you look at this pick from a needs based standpoint…it’s highly questionable to say the least.

The Bears now have 10 tight ends on the roster, but at the same time none that are really all that exceptional. Their big free agent signing, Jimmy Graham is a bonafide NFL TE1, but after that…not too much to work with. Yes, some of these tight ends are going to get cut before the NFL season starts, but who knows if we’ll even have a football season, with a coronavirus vaccine, it seems highly unlikely.

When the Bears do line-up are they going to get come out in double tight? Will that be their base formation in 2020…2021? Does Ryan Pace think this is like a baseball draft where you can just acquire a bunch of players at one position (SS in baseball) and move them around?

The Bears had more pressing needs at S, OL and Edge to resolve, but instead they kind of went best player available.

The Bears did draft a DB, cornerback Jaylon Johnson of Utah, seven picks later. The pick before that saw Kmet’s teammate, wide receiver Chase Claypool, go to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And then Fighting Irish DE Julian Okwara went to the Detroit Lions with the third pick in the third round.

So while day one of the NFL Draft had pretty much zero local interest, day two was brimming with it. Notre Dame had three players selected tonight after not landing any in the first round last night. The Bears didn’t have a first round pick, but they did have two picks in the second round.

And Cole Kmet is definitely a very interesting story. He was also the closer on ND’s baseball team. He has two uncles who played college football and one who played in the NFL.

Hailing from a very affluent northwestern suburb, in an area known for equestrian pursuits, the St. Viator graduate now gets to play for his hometown team. Expect local media to go overload on that story angle. They probably already have.

The “hometown boy now living the dream” angle is to sports media what “we can’t have a loose cannon like you” is to cop movies. Still Cole Kmet is an interesting guy. A double major in political science and economics at ND, he’s smart and witty. And it’s always good marketing for the Bears whenever they draft somebody from Notre Dame, given the composition of their fan base. In the early ’90s you even had a consistent run of Golden Domers to the Bears on draft night.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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