There are mixed opinions on which Notre Dame football player will be the first to hear their name called during the NFL Draft this year, but one of the leading contenders is tight end Cole Kmet. Many draft experts think Kmet will be the first tight end to hear his name called, but there isn’t a consensus on who is the top tight end in the Draft. Kmet has a good argument for why he should be.
There was hope that we would be talking about Kmet gearing up for a run at the Mackey Award in 2020 for Notre Dame as a senior, but his NFL evaluation convinced Kmet that it was in his best interest to leave for the NFL this year. Considering we are talking about him being the top tight end in the Draft right now, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a wise decision by Kmet either.
Check out our other draft projections:
- Julian Okwara who I think will hear his name called tomorrow
- Alohi Gilman who I don’t think will be a late-round pick
- Chase Claypool who I don’t think will last until the 3rd round
Kmet’s Georgia Game Tape Tells the Story
If there is one game that shows why Kmet should be the first tight end taken in the Draft, it’s week three against Georgia. In his first game back from a preseason injury, Kmet had the best game of his career against an SEC defense on the road. Kmet hauled in 9 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Notre Dame’s offense struggled as a whole against Georgia in September, but Kmet was one of the few bright spots for the Irish offense that night. Ian Book was locked in on Kmet all night, and Kmet came down with catch after catch as the Irish nearly pulled off the upset in Athens.
He didn’t quite keep up that pace throughout the entire season, but he still had six touchdowns in ten games after missing the first two games due to injury. If there is anything that will prevent him from being the first tight end taken, a string of minor injuries he suffered that slowed his development at Notre Dame would be it.
Focusing on Football Should Make Him Better
Throughout Kmet’s career, he spent a lot of time playing football and baseball. Once he gets in the NFL, he will be devoted 100% to football, and that should only help him get even bigger and better. He is already a massive tight end at 6’6″, 262 lbs, and that is with cross-training the last few years for football and baseball.
His size is what made his 4.7 time in the 40 at the Combine pretty impressive. It makes him NFL ready from day one. He could step in and start from day one for an NFL team, unlike some other college tight ends who take time to add weight and handle the blocking aspect of the position on the NFL level.
What Kmet Needs to Improve On
The one area Kmet needs to show the most improvement for the NFL is simply his availability. If Kmet had suffered multiple injuries throughout his career that kept him from breaking out until his senior season, there wouldn’t be a debate on who the top tight end in the Draft is – it would be Kmet hands down.
Had Kmet been healthier throughout his career, he likely would have passed Alize Mack on the depth chart in 2018 and not had to wait until that Georgia game to score the first touchdown of his career.
Kmet doesn’t have eye-popping testing numbers that jump off the page, but he checks every box that an elite tight end needs to check. Had he run a sub 4.7 in Indianapolis, Kmet would have cemented himself as the top tight end, but even without a 40 in the 4.6 range, Kmet still should be the first tight end selected.
Kyle Rudolph Comparison
If you were to read this same review nine years ago, we could almost substitute Kmet’s name with that of Kyle Rudolph’s. Rudolph was a physical specimen who never quite had that monster season everyone had always predicted for him at Notre Dame.
Like Kmet, Rudolph also missed numerous games throughout his Notre Dame career due to a few injuries throughout his career.
The Minnesota Vikings still drafted Rudolph 43rd overall in the 2011 NFL Draft despite him never recording more than 364 yards in any single season for Notre Dame.
Where Will Kmet Get Drafted?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I think Kmet will be the first tight end selected. Whether that is in the first round or second round, though, I’m not sure. The New England Patriots need a tight end and pick at #23 overall, but if Kmet is their target, I think they’ll trade back a bit before selecting Kmet.
The Chicago Bears need a tight end as well after releasing Trey Burton, but they don’t pick until 43rd (same place Rudolph went in 2011). That could be right around the range in which Kmet is selected. Kmet starting his professional career in his home state would be a great storyline too.
Some other teams drafted towards the end of the first round who could use a tight end include the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers. Some mock drafts have linked Kmet with Green Bay, and its a connection that makes a whole lot of sense with the Packers window with Aaron Rodgers closing as he gets closer to the end of his career.
All that said, I think Kmet is the first tight end to hear his name called in the Draft, but believe that it’ll be in the second round in a similar range to that Rudolph nine years ago. New England doesn’t have a second round, but I’ll say that the Patriots trade back from 23rd overall into the second round to grab Kmet and pick up an extra pick or two in the process.