INDIANAPOLIS — Cole Kmet doesn’t lack confidence.
Asked Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine whether he’s the best tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft class, the Notre Dame product quickly replied: “I do.”
“I just feel like my ability to do both blocking and splitting out wide and receiving is kind of unique in that sense,” Kmet said. “I’m one of the younger guys here — I’m still only 20 — so I have a lot to improve on still. But I think for those reasons, I’m the best guy here.”
At the very least, he’s in the conversation.
Shortly after declaring for the draft as a junior, Kmet quickly began being mentioned as a potential first-round draft pick. He had just one productive season for the Fighting Irish (43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019) but boasts ideal size (6-foot-6, 262 pounds) and enticing potential as a pass-catcher.
“I feel like I’m a balance guy,” Kmet said. “Kind of a true Y. I’m able to go in-line, split out, do a lot of things that tight ends do these days. … My favorite element (of my game) is my ability to stretch the field and get open in 1-on-1 matchups.”
Kmet, who also played baseball at Notre Dame, acknowledged his need to improve as a blocker, which draft evaluators point to as a weak spot in his game.
“Something I’ve really got to work on still is my blocking technique — hands, all that type of stuff,” he said. “That’s still something I’m trying to improve today.”
As of Wednesday, with on-field combine workouts still to come, CBS Sports, ESPN.com and NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks all had Kmet ranked as the top tight end in this year’s class. Pro Football Focus ranked him fourth behind Washington’s Hunter Bryant, Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins and Dayton’s Adam Trautman.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media’s lead draft analyst, said Kmet would be a good fit for the New England Patriots, who badly need an infusion of tight end talent after failing to properly replace Rob Gronkowski in 2019. New England’s trio of Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo was the NFL’s least productive tight end group, and only LaCosse and Izzo currently are under contract for 2020.
“(Kmet is) big, physical,” Jeremiah said last week on a conference call. “He’s the one that, if you’re saying, ‘OK, who looks like Gronk and who kind of has that physicality?’ — it would be Kmet. Now, I’m not saying he’s as athletic as Gronk, but he’s somebody with that big catch radius. He’s tough to tackle. He’s big and physical and strong, and he’s good in the run game. He can create some movement there and help you. He’s a nice two-way tight end.”
The Patriots currently own the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 draft. After that, they’re not scheduled to pick again until No. 87, having lost their second-round selection in the Mohamed Sanu trade. New England also is expected to receive two third-round compensatory picks.
Kmet hopes to boost his draft stock by running a sub-4.7-second 40-yard dash during his combine workout Thursday night.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports Images