2020 NFL Draft Report: Cole Kmet

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The 2020 NFL draft gets underway on April 23 and will look a lot different than it has in recent years. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced the NFL to audible its planned three-day extravaganza in Las Vegas and will instead likely hold a studio show without the fanfare that normally accompanies the realization of a lifelong dream for the more than 250 prospects who will hear their name called.

In this running series, we'll profile several of those players. Up next: Notre Dame tight end, Cole Kmet.

Kmet, 21, is an Illinois native who attended St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights. A four-star recruit, Kmet caught 48 passes for 773 yards and four touchdowns as a senior in 2016. He was a near-consensus top-100 player in his recruiting class.

A two-sport star, Kmet appeared in all 13 games for Notre Dame as a freshman and served as a closing pitcher for the baseball team (he recorded eight saves in 2017). His production on the gridiron took a few seasons to get going. He managed just 17 catches in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined.

Kmet broke out as a junior in 2019, registering 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games. He missed the first two games of the season with a broken collarbone. 

Physically, Kmet is everything NFL teams look for in a tight end prospect. A well-built 6-6, 262 pounds, Kmet has the frame, mass and strength to be a three-down player at the position assuming he becomes more technically sound as a run blocker.

Athletically, Kmet checked the necessary boxes at the NFL Combine where he recorded a 4.7 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical jump and 10'3" broad jump. His on-field movement skills are adequate but he isn't an explosive pass-catching target. Instead, Kmet is more of a post-up second-level/red-zone player.

Kmet's catch radius and ability to high-point the ball helps compensate for his average route-running. He won't generate much separation against NFL defenders, but he isn't the kind of player who needs to. Kmet's open even when he's covered.

After the catch, Kmet is what you'd expect a 262-pound player with above-average athletic traits to be. He's a challenging task for safeties to bring to the ground. 

Kmet's biggest issue is his run blocking, where he doesn't play up to his size or physical dimensions. He'll need to be coached up in this area of his game, especially when it comes to his initial punch at the point of attack. Most of his losses are the result of poor hand placement.

Overall, Kmet projects as a starting NFL tight end who will make his living as an intermediate target that specializes in moving the chains and scoring touchdowns. Not a bad combination.

His lack of any special or elite traits will keep him out of the first round, but he's in the mix to be the first tight end selected and a top-50 overall player.

Grade: 2nd round

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