Cole Kmet Solidifies TE1 Status At The Combine
When former Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, many viewed him as a contender for the best in the draft at his position. During the week of the NFL Scouting Combine, Kmet helped cement his status as the top tight end in the draft.
More importantly, he performed like a first-round pick.
As is always the case, and should be the case, many analysts began picking apart his game and pointing out his flaws once he declared. One criticism that constantly came up was a perceived lack of explosiveness and speed.
Kmet accomplished many things during his Combine performance, and silencing doubts about his speed and explosiveness was the most important.
Kmet ran an official 4.70 in the 40-yard dash, and one source I spoke with last night stated some NFL teams had him as low as 4.67. That’s an outstanding 40-yard dash time for a tight end that checked in at 262 pounds. In fact, Kmet was the second tallest and the heaviest tight end in the draft class, but still put up one of the best 40-yard dash times.
The former Irish standout also posted the best vertical jump of any tight end, leaping 37”. His broad jump of 123” tied him for second among all tight ends.
To put his performance into proper context, compare Kmet’s size, speed and explosiveness to TJ Hockenson, the former Iowa tight end that was the No. 8 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Height: 6-5 3/4
Hands: 10 1/2”
Broad Jump: 123.0”
Height: 6-4 3/4
Hands: 9 1/2”
Arms: 32 1/4”
Wingspan: 77 7/8”
Broad Jump: 123.0”
Kmet is an inch taller, 11 pounds heavier and much longer than Hockenson, and he posted almost identical numbers in the speed and explosiveness tests.
Kmet compared quite favorable to former Irish star Tyler Eifert, who was a first-round pick. Eifert checked in at 6-5 and 250 pounds with a shorter wingspan than Kmet. He ran a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, had a 35.5" vertical and a 119" broad jump. Kmet had almost an identical 40-yard dash time but had better explosive numbers.
Former Irish standout Kyle Rudolph posted a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash at the Notre Dame Pro Day back in 2011. Rudolph also had a 34.5" vertical jump and a 113" broad jump, all well below Kmet's numbers.
Former New England Patriots star Rob Gronskowski is a player Kmet often gets compared to. Gronkowski only did the bench at the combine, but his pro day numbers were very similar to Kmet. Gronkowski ran a 4.68, had a 33.5" vertical jump, a 119" broad jump and had a 4.47 in the pro shuttle.
Gronkowski was measured at 6-6 and 258 pounds with 34 1/4" arms.
Kmet showed himself to be faster and more explosive than other tight ends in contention for the top tight end spot. The only tight end in the mix for the top spot that can match Kmet in size is Dayton’s Adam Trautman (6-5, 255), but Trautman ran a 4.80, jumped 34.5” in the vertical and had a 113.0” broad jump.
Another tight end some consider better than Kmet is Washington’s Hunter Bryant, who checked in at just 6-2 1/4 and 248 pounds. Kmet had bigger hands, longer arms and a longer wingspan, and his size is significantly bigger, but the scouting reports said Bryant would be a better athlete.
Kmet beat him in the 40-yard dash (4.70 to 4.74), had a better vertical (37” to 32.5”), had a better broad jump (123” to 115”) and had a better pro shuttle (4.41 to 4.46).
Kmet looked smooth during on-field drills. His routes were efficient and he caught the ball extremely well, translating his testing numbers into football drills.
Kmet’s change of direction drills weren’t as good as Hockenson and weren’t in the ideal range, but they aren’t numbers that are going to change anyone’s opinion about him. They are quite similar to former Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr., who was a second round pick fo the 2019 NFL Draft. Smith was measured in at 6-2 3/8, 242 pounds and had a wingspan four inches shorter than Kmet. Smith had a faster 40-time than Kmet, but had a much shorter vertical and broad jump.
This is the range for Kmet, first to second round. He won’t be drafted as high as Hockenson, but he should go higher than Smith. With his performance, and how it compares to other top tight ends in this year’s draft, I find it hard to believe a team would have Kmet below the first or second tight end in this draft.
There is little doubt that Kmet helped himself at the combine, and the chances are strong that he cemented himself as the top tight end in the draft.