The tight end group for the Chicago Bears has been the talk of the last 12 months around the proverbial water cooler for us fans. They haven’t reached the, ‘Let’s plan to film a great sports documentary about the return of the Chicago tight end!’ level of play yet, but if they can turn things around from a year ago, there’ll be a YouTuber out there getting one ready for sure.
When their 2019 training camp was going on, fans were hopeful that Adam Shaheen would finally live up to his draft status and that Trey Burton would bounce back from his injuries.
As the 2019 season got started we were still waiting for those two to show us anything, and the lack of production from that position was a discussion topic all season long.
After ending up with the least productive tight ends in the league, the Bears added several players to the position group in hopes that they would turn things around in 2020.
And now through a few practices at Halas Hall, the revamped tight end room has been consistently getting mentioned by the beat writers as the stars of training camp.
In their recent video clip from Saturday’s scrimmage they highlighted Cole Kmet, Eric Saubert, Jesper Horsted, and Demetrius Harris.
Our players have the day off so why not take a look back at Saturday's scrimmage highlights?— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 24, 2020
Who impressed you the most? pic.twitter.com/OOYI5hENb5
The only reason Jimmy Graham didn’t have a spot in the Tweet was the Bears gave him a veteran off day after several days dominating practice at Halas Hall.
Graham, the Bears big free agent pickup, and Kmet, their top draft pick, figure to be Chicago’s top two tight ends in terms of production this year, and both were recently featured in an article on the team’s website.
“His football intelligence and his ability to soak in these plays and understand his assignments and to understand football and defenses is extremely impressive for a young kid,” Graham said of his rookie teammate. “That’s been the most impressive thing that I can say I notice with him.
“Also, he’s every bit of 260 [pounds]. He reminds me of a young me. He’s got big legs, and the amount of potential that the kid has and the amount of talent that he has is truly unbelievable.”
Kmet has been excited to learn from a player he grew up watching and from a player whose jersey he wore as a 12-year year old.
“He’s been a great influence for me since I’ve gotten here, just really helping out, showing me how to be professional,” Kmet said about the 33-year old Graham. “You’re going from college where things are kind of regimented in terms of going to class and stuff and being where you gotta be on time and doing what you have to do.
“Jimmy’s just been great in terms of showing me just all the extra things that you have to do in order to be a great professional. He’s just been really helpful throughout this whole process.”
These two Bears have been the talk from the coaches, their teammates, and the writers that have been able to cover camp so far, with The Athletic’s Adam Jahns naming thee two as his top two Chicago players from camp thus far.
1. TE Jimmy Graham: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Graham. He was coming off the least productive season since his rookie year. I knew that the Packers’ new system under coach Matt LeFleur played a role in that lack of production but he’s also 33. His last 1,000-yard season was in 2013. What were the Bears realistically going to get from him?
After several practices, I’m confident that the Bears will get more than they even expected. The quarterback competition will play in a role in what Graham is able to do but he’s played well with Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky in camp. He looked dominant in 1-on-1s against some of the Bears’ best defensive backs and has fared just as well in all other drills. He might not be the same All Pro player he was years ago for the Saints but he’s still a significant upgrade over Trey Burton as the Bears’ No. 1 tight end.
Like many, I was critical of the signing back in March — it really seemed the Bears overpaid, but with the importance of the U tight end in Matt Nagy’s scheme they needed a player they could count on. Graham hasn’t missed a game since 2015, and he’s never played fewer than 11 games in a season.
2. TE Cole Kmet: If Graham isn’t stressing out the Bears’ defense in practice, it’s the Bears’ second-round pick or another tight end. Overall, there hasn’t been a better position group on offense than the tight ends. Kmet is as big and as formidable as advertised. This time of year is always full of overzealous praise from coaches and players. But it’s obvious that they mean it about Kmet. He’s played that well in practices against more seasoned players.
The Bears have already said that they believe Kmet has the skills to get reps at both the Y (in-line) and at the U (move), so even if the Bears want to ease him into the lineup with Harris getting the starting nod at the Y, Kmet’s versatility will get him on the field plenty.
What are your thoughts on the early buzz surrounding the tight ends? Is it just the usual camp excitement, or do you believe there’s something to it?