The newest Bears: They check out!

Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson can solve two big problems for the team starting this fall

Good morning, frents

Anyone feeling a bit more pep in your step this morning? After spending two nights eyeball-deep in football highlights, I’ve never looked forward to the first week of September more. Writing my own analysis of the Bears’ two picks on Friday night and then compiling some of the other great reactions around town was a great reminder of why I started Midway Minute in a world before the lockdown.

It’s also a good example of just how fun this is all going to be once real, live sports come back in our lives. So do me a favor: If you gained value from this newsletter, send it to one or two frents this weekend. And if you had this email forwarded to you? Please sign up. I’d love to have you for the ride ahead.

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Meet Cole Kmet + Jaylon Johnson

So that went … OK?

The Bears had at least four big areas of need heading into Friday’s second round and so it was always going to be a matter of deciding which two they would address.

We got our answers 90 minutes into the night. The Bears took Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet at No. 43 and then Utah CB Jaylon Johnson seven picks later at No. 50.

That meant offensive line and receiver will need to be addressed with the five picks the Bears hold between rounds 5-7 in today’s conclusion to the draft. Here’s hoping Ryan Pace’s daughter can bring a lucky rabbit foot to the dining room table for the afternoon.

About the two second-round picks: I wasn’t complaining much when I heard their names, I wasn’t complaining at all once I heard NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah say he thought the Bears had landed two first-round caliber talents.

Do I think the Kmet pick is another example of Pace needing to throw more good money after bad at a position that claimed a second-round pick in 2017 (Adam Shaheen) and two big free-agent deals (Trey Burton and Jimmy Graham)? Yes.

Would I have rather seen the team address the offensive line considering they probably won’t find anything usable there today? Also, yes.

But it’s also quite clear Pace and Matt Nagy think they’re only going to go as far as their tight end room. Who am I to suggest a substitution for someone planning what could well be their last meal?

In Kmet, the Bears got the No. 1 tight end in the draft, a two-sport star from Notre Dame who grew up in Arlington Heights and played both football and baseball at St. Viator. If you haven’t yet seen his home video of getting the call from the Bears, I’d recommend it. I imagine how it’s how we all would’ve reacted if we got the same call.

Kmet stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 262 pounds. If his blocking skills can make the jump to the NFL level, he profiles as the type of “Y tight end” the team desires. (Nagy wants his Travis Kelce; Nick Foles and the ex-pat Eagles coaches want their Zach Ertz.)

More good news: I’ve settled on a nickname for him already.

If I saw any consistent criticism of the Kmet pick, it came in the fact that the Bears were passing up higher-ranked players from the boards of some pundits.

But that was mitigated seven picks later when the team was able to grab Johnson, a highly-touted player who fell because of recent surgery to repair a torn labrum.

If you’re an optimist, it’s easy to draw a parallel to the Bears getting Eddie Jackson in the fourth round of the 2017 drafter after injury concerns sank his stock.

If you’re a pessimist, you’re going to bring up Kevin White and why are you ruining our weekend like that?

Johnson conducted his call with Bears beat reporters with a big chip on his shoulder. It’s obvious he has something to prove and he should fit right in once he’s slotted into the defense across from Kyle Fuller.

Can it be Week 1 already?

What did you think of the two picks?

View comments

Reactions to the Kmet pick

Chicago Bears graphic

Sean Wagner-McGeough, CBS Sports

“Pace is going to find Matt Nagy a star tight end or he's going to get fired trying.”

Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune

“Kmet really helped himself at the scouting combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.70 seconds. He has enough quickness to get open in the middle of the field and he’s a very good athlete. He can play the Y position as a blocker or detach from the line of scrimmage and will arrive with a more advanced route tree than most rookies at the position.”

Stephen Letizia, Chicago Audible

“Listen, I like Cole Kmet. He was my TE1. I thought he would have been an ok pick at 50. Taking him now with the talent that was on the board is inexcusable.”

JJ Stankevitz, NBC Sports Chicago

“The Bears used 12 personnel on only 13 percent of their plays in 2019. The Chiefs and Eagles were top 5 in the league in using 12 personnel. Kmet + Jimmy Graham could mean an offense that looks more like KC and Philly. That's the best-case here with Kmet.”

EJ Snyder, Windy City Gridiron

“The board was aligned almost perfectly for the Bears in terms of team needs. Receiver, safety, and corner all had serious impact potential players available. Nobody had picked a tight end yet, at all. Players that would have helped the Bears (Antoine Winfield Jr., Grant Delpit, KJ Hamler) went off the board immediately after the Bears pick. I just can’t get over the fact they let good value slide AND didn’t trade back. Either would have been preferable options.”

Reactions to the Johnson pick

Dan Pompei, The Athletic

“No one would have blinked if Jaylon Johnson had been picked in the 20s of the first round. Excellent value for the Bears.”

Christopher Kamrani, The Athletic

“There are background stories for aspiring professional athletes overwrought with overused cliches like ‘this player was raised for this.’ Except for Johnson, it’s all true. His dad was a college corner, his older brother was a college corner and he was always going to be a college corner.”

EJ Snyder, Windy City Gridiron

“Johnson has all the physical traits and play style to smoothly transition to start in Chicago as a replacement for Prince Amukamara. Pagano will LOVE his traits, and his potential is terrific for the Bears role for him.”

Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports

“The Jaylon Johnson pick is great. I love that pick. TE, CB isn’t the start I wanted, but it was imperative to get a corner or a safety at least.”

Doug Farrar, USA Today

“Hey, @ChicagoBears fans — you got a first-round talent in Utah CB Jaylon Johnson. Watched tape with him last week, and he is as smart as any cornerback in this class. Just doesn't make mistakes. Shoulder issue dropped him, but he's a good 'un.”

Have a link for Midway Minute? Email me!

Grades and analysis for every second-round draft pick. (CBS Sports)

Adam Jahns on Cole Kmet’s dream coming true. (The Athletic)

Patrick Finley on why the Bears should feel good about Friday night. (Sun-Times)

• Whoever buys Matt Nagy’s house in a couple of years will have a lot of intel on the 2018-19 Bears and their opponents in their basement.

• When the third bourbon kicks in

• This is legit hilarious.

And that’s it for today. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. I’ll see you back here on Monday morning with a recap of both The Last Dance Eps 3 & 4 and the conclusion to the Bears draft.

As always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter!