Cole Kmet Continues To Fight For Draft Positioning
Former Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet is one of nine players from the 2019 squad that will get a chance to boost their NFL Draft stock at the scouting combine, which takes place later this month.
Kmet continues to be near the top of the tight end board, but there’s still some variation with how he is viewed. Mock drafts have Kmet going between round one and round three, and while some consider him the top tight end in the draft, others have him ranked lower.
Sports Illustrated draft analyst Kevin Hanson and DraftCountdown.com analyst Scott Wright both rank Kmet as the tight end in the draft. Here’s why Hanson puts Kmet in the top spot:
“Expectations were that Kmet would return to school in 2020, but the dual-sport athlete (with baseball) for Notre Dame had a change of heart and has the potential to be the first tight end off the board. A safety valve for Ian Book as a junior, Kmet became more involved in the passing attack and finished with 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019. More of a receiving threat than blocker at this point in his development, he has experience both in-line and detached with a frame to add more mass.”
Wright has Kmet in the top spot while listing the former Irish standout with a projected 4.87 in the 40-yard dash. I’ve read knocks on Kmet’s speed and athleticism on a few different occasions, and that is where the combine could result in his draft stock taking a major jump if he can silence those questions. I won't be surprised if Kmet surprises many analysts with his testing numbers and performance in drills.
The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler ranks Kmet as the second best tight end in the draft. He projects Kmet with a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash. Bruger sees Kmet as a throwback tight end in the NFL.
“A two-year starter at Notre Dame, Kmet was the starting tight end in head coach Brian Kelly’s pro-style scheme, splitting his snaps inline, on the wing and detached. Following in the footsteps of players like Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija, he is the latest Notre Dame product who split his time between baseball and football in South Bend, choosing the NFL over MLB, like Tate.
*Kmet is an easy player to like on and off the field, with outstanding ball skills and body control to dominate the catch point. While he must continue learning the details of route-running and blocking, he has never played only one sport, so year-round dedication to football will certainly accelerate his development. Overall, Kmet is a dependable and physically impressive pass-catcher who doesn’t have a deal-breaking weakness to his game, projecting as an NFL-ready “Y” target similar to Jason Witten when he was coming out of Tennessee.*
Brugler ranks Dayton tight end Adam Trautman as the top tight end on the board. Hanson ranks Trautman No. 4 and Wright ranks him No. 2.
Kyle Cribbs from The Draft Network ranks Kmet as the fourth best tight end in the draft. Here is his analysis of Kmet:
“Cole Kmet surprised with is declaration after initially committing to return for 2020. Kmet is a smooth athlete and, although not the most explosive player, displays a significant size advantage in the middle of the field. Kmet will need to continue to improve upon his blocking and balance at the point of attack but has the frame and functional mobility/strength to be a plus blocker with more consistency on this front. Should be a starter in a traditional TE role with some time to develop.”
Fellow TDN analyst Jordan Reid ranks Kmet fifth at the position, which is the lowest I've seen him ranked.
One of the consistent knocks that I see on Kmet is his blocking, and this is the one that cannot be dismissed at the combine. Kmet was not a strong blocker for Notre Dame, which is due to a number of factors. One, Kmet never really fully committed to football until his final year. Combined with the fact his position coach was also the coordinator, his technique wasn’t where it needed to be.
What scouts will see on film is a player with the size and power to be a strong blocker, but he’ll need to continue adding weight room strength that will come as he gets further away from playing baseball, and he’ll need to enhance his technique. When a player has a trait that is somewhat easy to correct it usually won’t impact his grade as much as an issue like lacking speed, size or agility.
Early in the season I did a film room breaking down the traits Kmet brings to the game. You can read that HERE.