UA-59049186-1 2020 Chicago Bears Preview: Tight End - Good if it Goes

2020 Chicago Bears Preview: Tight End

(Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sport)

Jimmy Graham heads south after two years in Green Bay where his time was spent, at best, doing not very much, and, at worst, being ignored altogether. Prior to the last two years where he was treated like a family member by Aaron Rodgers, Graham was productive, though even in his 2017 Pro Bowl season in Seattle, he wasn’t the player he used to be. That Pro Bowl season was the fifth of Graham’s ten-year career. The five seasons that didn’t end with a Pro Bowl selection were the two in Green Bay, his rookie year in New Orleans, an injury-shortened 2015, and a 2012 season where he still totaled 982 yards and 9 touchdowns. Ryan Pace is hoping that there’s still something left in the tank and that his lack of production up north was a product of the Packers not knowing how to utilize the tight end position. Your author is of the opinion that there’s reason to believe that is, indeed, the case. While Graham is not going to be the star he was in New Orleans, and to a slightly lesser extent, Seattle, he can still be a productive tight end, especially in an offense that would like to use one like Matt Nagy’s. The floor for Jimmy Graham’s 2020 should be Trey Burton’s 2018. Graham should at least provide a quality TE option in the passing game, which the Chicago offense sorely lacked a year ago. Graham’s never been known for his blocking, but as long as he’s not an outright liability, he’s a serious upgrade over the group of JAGs that populated the tight end room a year ago.

Cole Kmet was taken in the second round of this year’s draft to the frustration of your author. From the draft class recap:

Many called Kmet the best tight end in the 2020 draft class. Your author was not among them. On top of that, being the best tight end in this year’s class is faint praise, as the position group was underwhelming to say the least. Your author did not give any of the tight ends higher than a 3rd-round grade.”

It’s not all bad news, though. From the same recap:

The upside to this pick is that it should be relatively safe. Kmet should be a solid player for a long time. He’s fundamentally sound, a strong blocker, and an asset in the red zone.”

Word out of camp has been largely positive. Again, grain of salt. At the very least, though, that should confirm your author’s hunch about Kmet being a high floor pick. This space is still bearish on his ceiling, though, and, as such, its stance on Kmet is “will believe it when I see it” as his tape does not show an elite athlete and tight end is one of those positions where players take longer to adjust to the pro game.

J.P. Holtz returns after a 2019 that saw him make his NFL debut for the Washington group of guys then known as the Redskins, then put on waivers a few days later, at which point, he was claimed by the Bears. In Chicago, Holtz was used mostly as a fullback and caught 7 of his eight targets for 91 yards. He figures to reprise that fullback/TE-H role in 2020. He is the only returning player from his group last year to draw mention in this preview, which should tell you all you need to know about the mess that last year was at the TE position.

Demetrius Harris is another newcomer to Chicago. After totaling just under 100 yards total in his first two years in the league with Kansas City, he settled into a backup JAG role for the Chiefs before moving on to Cleveland as a free agent in 2019. 2019 would be his only season as a Brown as he was released after the season. If he’s needed for more than a handful of depth snaps, the Bears are in trouble.

 

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

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