30 Most Important Bears of 2022: No. 19 Cole Kmet

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the 2022 NFL season, which features plenty of new and returning faces within the organization. There are a number of players, coaches and front office members that are crucial to the team’s success this season.

Every day from now until the start of training camp, we’re counting down our 30 most important Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2021 season, look ahead to 2022 and tackle the biggest question facing them this year.

We’re a third of the way through our list and coming in at No. 19 is tight end Cole Kmet, a key player in the Bears offense who is looking to ascend heading into his third season.

Background

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Position: Tight end

Age: 23

Experience: 3rd season

2022 cap hit: $2.06 million

2021 recap

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Did Kmet have a successful 2021 campaign? It depends on who you ask. One portion of the fanbase will point to his leap in production, improving on nearly every stat like receptions, yards, yards per reception, yards per game, etc. Others, however, will point to the fact that he was seemingly non existent outside of third and long situations, wasn’t fluid as a receiver and failed to catch a touchdown.

Like most situations, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Kmet’s production of 60 receptions for 612 yards blew his rookie stats out of the water and, as expected, took the second-year tight end leap. He was the team’s second-leading receiver on the year and steadily established a connection with Justin Fields. But Kmet also showed areas where he needs to improve, such as tracking the deep ball and finding ways to get open in the end zone. Still, there was enough improvement to feel optimistic about his future.

2022 outlook

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Kmet stands to benefit greatly from new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy coming to town and installing the Shanahan offense in Chicago. It’s a system that’s favorable to tight ends and Getsy saw first-hand in Green Bay the success players can have, such as Robert Tonyan during the 2020 season. Even though Kmet plays the Y tight end that is the in-line tight end, he can be an effective pass catcher in addition to his role as a blocker in the running game.

The former Notre Dame standout is doing what it takes to get better as well, looking noticeably more in shape and working out with Fields and wide receiver Darnell Mooney this offseason. The stakes have been raised for Kmet and it’s fair to expect him to be a consistent go-to target in the pass game and a lethal blocking tight end in the run game.

Big question: What is Cole Kmet's ceiling?

AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson

Most people understand that Kmet probably isn’t going to be the next Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a very good tight end in the league for years to come. The question is, what is his ceiling?

A popular comparison for Kmet has been another Notre Dame product, Kyle Rudolph. Though he was never dominant, Rudolph was as consistent as they came for much of his career. He averaged 10 yards per catch throughout his career and had five seasons with five touchdowns or more, mostly with the Minnesota Vikings. If Kmet averages that kind of production and continues to total 500 yards per season, it would be considered a success. We’ll see if he can reach higher heights but that feels like manageable expectations as Kmet continues his career.

30 Most Important Bears of 2022

We’re counting down our 30 Most Important Bears of 2022. Check back every day leading up to the start of training camp.

30. RB Khalil Herbert

29. K Cairo Santos

28. S DeAndre Houston-Carson

27. DE Al-Quadin Muhammad

26. DE Robert Quinn

25. S Eddie Jackson

24. LB Nicholas Morrow

23. G Cody Whitehair

22. CB Tavon Young

21. FB Khari Blasingame

20. WR Velus Jones Jr.

19. TE Cole Kmet

18. COMING 7/9

17. COMING 7/10

16. COMING 7/11

15. COMING 7/12

14. COMING 7/13

13. COMING 7/14

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10. COMING 7/17

9. COMING 7/18

8. COMING 7/19

7. COMING 7/20

6. COMING 7/21

5. COMING 7/22

4. COMING 7/23

3. COMING 7/24

2. COMING 7/25

1. COMING 7/26

 

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