The tight end position is suddenly a major question for the Chicago Bears, so it would be logical that Ryan Pace will be selecting one in the draft.
Of course, the Bears could still make a trade for Buccaneers’ tight end O.J. Howard, who is reportedly being shopped for a second-round pick. If Pace has intentions of taking a tight end in the second round, a strong argument can be made that the Chicago Bears should simply make the trade for Howard rather spend the time developing an unknown commodity.
However, should the latter be the preferred route, the tight ends available in this draft are talented and capable of making an impact from the get-go. Let’s look at three that should be targeted.
Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
Hopkins being mocked to the Chicago Bears in the second round is not a novel concept. In fact, it makes a lot of sense regardless of the Burton news. He has good speed as demonstrated by his 4.66 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and is a big, physical target who played in an inept offense at Purdue.
As a senior, Hopkins posted his best season, hauling in 61 receptions for 830 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s an excellent run-blocker but needs some work catching the deep ball. However, he’d quickly thrive in a Nick Foles-led offense, who utilizes his tight ends heavily at every stop he’s been.
Cole Kmet, Notre Dame
At 6-foot-6, 262 pounds, Kmet is quite a bit bigger than Hopkins but still ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds at the Combine. The Lake Barrington native could very well end up playing for the hometown team, and he’d be a darn good addition as well.
After a 2018 season in which he didn’t score any touchdowns, Kmet hauled in six of them last year. As a whole, he tallied 43 receptions for 515 yards. He’s a huge red zone threat with five of his six touchdowns coming within this area of the field.
Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
In terms of pure production, no tight end hauled in more receptions than Bryant. He was a monster in Lane Kiffin’s offense with 65 catches for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns. His senior year was no fluke either as he stair-stepped his production each year on campus.
The Mackey Award winner measured in at 6-foot-5, 243 pounds at the NFL Combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds. Similar to Kmet, Bryant was a red zone machine, hauling in five of his seven touchdowns in this area.
Given the Burton news, it would seem that tight end just became the biggest need aside from addressing the offensive line. It will be interesting to see if Pace prefers to develop a tight end or trade for a proven commodity in Howard before the Bears open the 2020 season.