In his second season, Bears tight end Cole Kmet is learning what it means to be an NFL tight end.
He has learned this from other NFL tight ends, both in person and on film.
In his quest, Kmet's become quite the film expert these days and we're not talking Cecil B. DeMille, Orson Wells or Alfred Hitchcock here but Kelce and Gronkowski, as in Travis and Rob, aka Gronk.
Kmet has his own tight ends to imitate and coach Matt Nagy has his own for Kmet to copy. It's become a kind of mishmash when he's studying the great tight ends to imitate.
"Well, obviously coach worked with Travis (Kelce) back in Kansas City and that's kind of what he's familiar with, and you know, the play style that I kind of have looked at from college days has been (Mark) Bavaro types, Gronkowski types," Kmet said. "So kind of meshing those two types of play styles together has really been beneficial for me this offseason.
"So we watched a ton of Kelce tape when he (Nagy) was back in Kansas City on certain concepts and watching Gronk tape and how he uses his body, things like that. So with my size and the way I'm able to move, I need to figure out what my strengths and what are my weaknesses and how can I get better at those strengths and maximize those weaknesses."
Kmet went beyond film to be more like Kelce. This was someone he connected with when he went during the summer to Tight End U, a conference former Bears and Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and other tight ends hold for players at this position.
"Yeah that was really cool," Kmet said. "One of the coolest things I've done and get around all those guys."
He pulled in one particular thought about playing the position within this offense when he talked with Kelce.
"Yeah, I think the big thing with Travis is don't run the line in the book, and that's a big deal with him," Kmet said.
Kelce is well known for improvising routes from what the playbook says.
"Stay on the quarterback's timing and be where you have to be but be creative with your routes just as long as you're on that quarterback's timing and you get in the right spot and you're open, I mean, no one's going to say anything," Kmet said. "Those are kind of the things that I took from (Kelce), and you know releases and things like that were definitely beneficial."
Kmet had 20 of his receptions last year in the final five games, so momentum seems to be on his side.
"Once we got to the middle of the season and you guys saw those last five or six, seven games when he started getting more targets, it just really proves to us and he proved to us what he is and what he can be," Nagy said. "So when you have that, now you head into Year 2 and it really, you know what routes he can run well and what routes he needs to maybe work more at.
"And you know, Cole and I have gotten together and in the passing game we've talked through a lot of clips to be able to run certain routes and I wasn't able to do that last year in training camp with him."
Kmet started going into Nagy's office during OTAs to watch some clips of routes.
"Now he gets to do it training camp, so I think you'll see him keep growing and our relationship is building in the trust of how we work with each other," Nagy said.
Those clips were Kelce routes?
"Maybe," Nagy said, not wanting to tip anything off, although Kmet already had.
Kmet made 28 receptions in his rookie season, which was 28 more than Kelce made in his rookie year.
The Bears wouldn't mind seeing a jump like Kelce had in Year 2, when he caught 67 passes for 862 yards.
To accomplish it, Kmet is making good use of other opportunities he didn't have last year. One was the OTA work and minicamp. Another is working with Andy Dalton at quarterback.
"Andy, he gets the ball out quick," Kmet said. "And getting on the same page with him has been big through the OTA period and now going into camp."
The schedule allows this year for an extra full week of practice before the regular season because there is no fourth preseason game. Kmet plans to use that wisely.
"We have this time now before our true Week 1 where we get all this time to get that timing down and things like that," he said. "And I'm really looking forward to see how that goes over the course of the camp."