Cole Kmet

Bears Finalize Draft Class Deals

The Bears completed a quick effort to have their 2020 draft class signed by the time their rookies were to report to training camp. All seven of Chicago’s draftees are now signed, with the group either inking deals Tuesday or seeing the team reveal an agreement is in place.

Second-round tight end Cole Kmet and Round 2 cornerback Jaylon Johnson highlight the group, which also included linebacker Trevis Gipson, cornerback Kindle Vildor, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tackles Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons. Kmet, Johnson and Simmons signed their deals Tuesday.

This marked the second of two Bears drafts lacking a first-round pick because of 2018’s Khalil Mack trade. Chicago, however, gained a second-rounder in that deal and selected Kmet. The Bears took Hambright with a pick obtained in the deal with the Raiders as well.

The first tight end selected this year, Kmet will be expected to step in as Chicago’s starter fairly soon. The team has experienced issues filling this job in recent years. Dion Sims, 2017 second-rounder Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton failed to become the franchise’s long-sought-after answer here. The Bears did sign Jimmy Graham, but the soon-to-be 34-year-old tight end struggled for much of his Packers tenure.

A Utah product, Johnson can be expected to compete for the Bears’ starting cornerback job opposite Kyle Fuller. Chicago released Prince Amukamara this offseason. The Bears also traded up for Mooney in Round 5, doing so just before signing Ted Ginn Jr. to serve as a stopgap option. Chicago also cut Taylor Gabriel this offseason.

Here is the Bears’ draft class:

2-43: Cole Kmet, TE (Notre Dame)
2-50: Jaylon Johnson, CB (Utah)
5-155: Trevis Gipson, LB (Tulsa)
5-163: Kindle Vildor, CB (Georgia Southern)
5-173: Darnell Mooney, WR (Tulane)
7-226: Arlington Hambright, T (Colorado)
7-227: Lachavious Simmons, T (Tennessee State)

Draft Rumors: Hurts, Giants, Jags, Tua

With the draft in less than 24 hours, several names have started to surface as potential first-round upsets. It would not surprise some around the league to see TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor and Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet end up as first-round picks, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes. The Eagles have surfaced as a Reagor candidate; the TCU product clocked two sub-4.3-second 40-yard dashes recently. The tight end class is not viewed to be nearly as strong, but an AFC coach said Kmet’s landing spot will likely be in the back end of the first round or start of the second.

Notre Dame pass rusher Julian Okwara and Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette profile as players who could sneak into Round 1, per Pelissero. One exec compared Romeo Okwara‘s younger brother to an Anthony Barr type who could rush passers and drop into coverage. Julian Okwara registered 12 sacks over the past two seasons. Arnette would join Jeffrey Okudah as a first-rounder in this instance and follow a host of recent Buckeye corners by being a Thursday-night draftee. Arnette started 38 games in his Ohio State career.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • While Jalen Hurts is not expected to creep into the first round, Pelissero notes some NFL personnel believe he will go higher than most predict (Twitter link). So will Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr., Pelissero adds. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Hurts going off the board at No. 49 overall to the Steelers; Scouts Inc. grades the dual-threat quarterback as its No. 94 overall prospect. The Packers, Chargers and Raiders are among the teams believed to be interested. Winfield (29th per Scouts Inc.) is a second-generation NFLer, the son of former Vikings Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield. The younger Winfield intercepted seven passes last year and is also seen as a player who, like his father, could move into the slot.
  • Ex-Hurts teammate Tua Tagovailoa is “very well-regarded” in New England, per Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. However, Curran also believes the scenario NBC Sports’ Peter King suggested of the Patriots moving up to No. 13 (the 49ers’ slot) to draft a falling Tagovailoa doesn’t make much sense for the team, due to the Pats’ various other needs. Tagovailoa may now be back in play for the Dolphins at No. 5 anyway.
  • Buzz has surfaced about the Giants having a trade partner. While it is not certain the Jaguars are that team, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets several GMs have pointed to the Giants moving down from No. 4 and the Jags climbing up from No. 8. The Giants are believed to be serious about wanting to move down. Although the Jaguars are believed to be planning to give Gardner Minshew a legitimate opportunity, JLC speculates a move up would be for a quarterback.
  • This draft could well see five tackles taken in the first round. With Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt listing Ezra Cleveland as a player who will go higher than expected, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo adds that the Boise State tackle is a “mortal lock” to be chosen in Round 1 (Twitter link). The Browns were believed to be eyeing Cleveland, which would be a fun fit. If they pass on a tackle at No. 10, the Browns may need to consider making an early move back into Round 1 for the rising player.

Cole Kmet To Enter NFL Draft

On Thursday, Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet announced that he’ll enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Kmet, regarded as one of the best tight ends in this year’s crop, was widely expected to forgo his remaining eligibility and turn pro this year. 

Kmet is a jack-of-all-trades tight end with powerful blocking and reasonably soft hands. Kmet had no touchdowns to his credit before the 2019 season, but he broke out with 43 catches, 515 yards, and six TDs in his final season for the Fighting Irish.

The Patriots could theoretically use a tight end like Kmet to fill the void left by Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement last offseason. The Panthers and Bengals are also among the teams with potential needs at tight end, though they may or may not be in the market for one by the time the draft rolls around.

The NFL committee that advises underclassmen gave Kmet a second-round grade, but there aren’t many TEs in this year’s crop that offer a skillset like Kmet’s. If his workouts go as expected, Kmet seems likely to be a Day 1 pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.