Safe Pick: Best spot for Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet is likely 2nd round

NFL Draft News
Cole Kmet

It’s hard to call any tight end a “safe pick.”

SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit did a deep-dive into why tight ends are valued so low and shouldn’t be drafted in the top 10 after the Lions took Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson with pick no. 8 overall last year.

The takeaway: A tight end’s value to a team doesn’t match up to other positions on the field, like offensive tackle or pass rusher. But the analysis also points out that there aren’t enough good tight ends in the league.

And the top tight ends in recent years have done little to change that perception.

Out of the top tight end drafted from 2015 to 2019, all but one spent time on injured reserve as a rookie. And the one who didn’t – Maxx Williams, a 2015 second-round pick by Baltimore who’s now with Arizona – then missed time due to injury for three consecutive seasons after his rookie year.

That doesn’t bode well for Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet, who’s considered the top tight end prospect by most analysts.

Kmet (6-foot-6, 262 pounds) tested in the elite-category at the Combine in several categories, according to Mockdraftable. But he only has one season in which he put up above-average statistics, his junior year, although it should be noted that Kmet played with a shaky quarterback situation at Notre Dame.

However, it should also be noted that Kmet missed the first three games of the season with a broken collarbone.

Receiving & Rushing Table
Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2017 Notre Dame Ind FR TE 4 2 14 7.0 0 0 0 0 2 14 7.0 0
*2018 Notre Dame Ind SO TE 9 15 162 10.8 0 0 0 0 15 162 10.8 0
*2019 Notre Dame Ind JR TE 10 43 515 12.0 6 0 0 0 43 515 12.0 6
Career Notre Dame 60 691 11.5 6 0 0 0 60 691 11.5 6

Is Kmet a “safe” pick?

It’s possible that Kmet could sneak into the first round, but given the pool or talent at some of the premium positions, that seems unlikely.

However, Kmet could be a target of a team in the second round, where the production is a better match for the draft position. Out of the last five tight ends who were the first at their position to be drafted, three played in at least 53 percent of their team’s offensive snaps, according to Football Outsiders. Hayden Hurst, the No. 25 overall pick by Baltimore in 2018 who was recently traded to Atlanta, missed time with a stress fracture in his foot that he later said bothered him his entire rookie season. He only accounted for 275 offensive snaps, good for only 23.1 percent of the team’s snaps on offense.

Maxx Williams also failed to appear in more than 53 percent of his team’s offensive snaps, with 477 snaps (42 percent). But he also set Baltimore records for rookie receptions and yards for a tight end with 32 catches for 268 yards.

Kmet is a ‘safe pick’ — if taken in the second round

And that segues back into the debate about the overall value of tight ends. Is any player, no matter how elite he is, worth a first-round pick if he receives around 50 percent of his team’s snap counts?

If you’re talking about the first round, then the answer is probably “no.”

But in the second round? Probably, as 13 rookies drafted in the second round last year played less than 60 percent of their team’s snaps. Assuming Kmet appears in around 50 percent of his team’s offensive snaps, then he should be a relatively “safe” pick in the second round – and an even better pick if he slides to a later round.


Jake Rigdon ( covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.