Bears say rookie TE Cole Kmet ahead of schedule in NFL development

Kmet has been an early hit for the Bears and has made a significant impression on the coaching staff two days into padded practices.

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Cole Kmet was the first tight end taken and went No. 43 overall this year.

Cole Kmet was the first tight end taken and went No. 43 overall this year.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Rookie tight ends tend to need extended time to adjust to NFL speed and size, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Bears’ second-round pick Cole Kmet.

Throughout the offseason, and especially over the first few days of actual practice, the Bears haven’t made the typical call for patience that accompanies highly touted rookies. If anything, they’re fueling the high expectations.

Without the benefit of offseason practices and a normal training camp, Kmet is already playing at an NFL level according to the staff.

“I would say Cole is on schedule — if not maybe a tick ahead of schedule,” tight ends coach Clancy Barone said Wednesday. “Not to make it sound too grand, but I have zero concerns about Cole Kmet. I really do.”

That comes after coach Matt Nagy repeatedly raved about Kmet’s grasp of the playbook during the offseason.

The Bears took Kmet No. 43 overall, making him the first tight end chosen. Last season, at Notre Dame, Kmet had 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns.

They’re counting on a combination of former all-pro Jimmy Graham bouncing back from a rough season in Green Bay and Kmet emerging quickly.

The position was a disaster last season, when the entire group combined for 46 catches, 416 yards and two touchdowns. Twenty-one NFL tight ends outdid that yardage total.

The only 1,000-yard season by a tight end in Bears history was Mike Ditka in 1961. They’re had three tight ends eclipse 600 yards receiving since him: Desmond Clark (2006), Greg Olsen (‘09) and Martellus Bennett (‘13 and ‘14).

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