Bears training camp preview: Tight ends more important than ever – Daily Herald

Bears tight end Cole Kmet runs with a ball at the team’s practice facility Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Lake Forest. Associated Press
The tight ends group will take on added importance for these Bears in part because of the lack of high-end prospects in the wide receiver group and because of the importance of their blocking in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s outside zone-read run game.
Other than great speed for the position, Kmet has all the tools of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Actually, Kelce and Kittle don’t have unusual speed either. What those three do share is exceptional toughness, athleticism and want-to.
Kmet has the blocking skills to be a factor in the run game and could emerge as Justin Fields’ favorite target if teams decide to take Darnell Mooney away.
Biggest plus: His size, strength, toughness and athleticism make him a natural go-to guy in key situations.
Biggest concern: Kmet’s 2 career touchdowns on 88 catches are concerning for a guy who should be a matchup nightmare in the red zone.
Griffin is a classic NFL journeyman having logged six seasons with the Houston Texans and then the last three with the New York Jets as a solid No. 2. At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, he is a near identical body type to Kmet and another true Y or in-line guy.
Griffin did start 31 games in his three seasons with the Jets but a number of them in two-tight end sets.
Biggest plus: Griffin’s a lifer who will give you solid minutes and not be the reason you get beat.
Biggest concern: If Kmet misses time, Griffin is not a guy likely to pick up the slack as a receiver.
Out of Naperville and Illinois State, his resume reads similar to Griffin’s, but he is smaller than him and Kmet at 6-4 and just about 245 pounds. That might suggest O’Shaughnessy is more of a U or move tight end, but he really isn’t with just 112 career catches, 9.9 yards per catch over seven seasons with Kansas City and Jacksonville and 40 career starts.
Biggest plus: You don’t last seven seasons in the NFL without contributing.
Biggest concern: Not a great blocker or pass catcher.
Allen is a priority undrafted rookie free agent and was rated as a potential midround draft choice by some analysts this past April.
At 6-6, 250, he has an NFL-ready body with a frame to add muscle, and he has already been seen running with the No. 1s and 2s at times in OTAs and minicamps.
Biggest plus: Multiple scouts said he was the best in-line blocking tight end in this year’s draft.
Biggest concern: Allen’s receiving skills are a work in progress.
John is from Vancouver and played wide receiver at Simon Fraser College in Canada before spending two seasons stashed on the New York Giants’ I.R. list after signing as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2020.
At 6-7, 220, he is the U or move tight end prospect on the Bears roster whose best hope for this season is probably the practice squad.
Biggest plus: Special size and athleticism for the position.
Biggest concern: Has never played anywhere near this level before.
Another Bears undrafted rookie free agent signed this year out of Cal Berkley, Tonges’ body type will remind you of Jesper Horsted. He was Cal’s starter last season after walking on as a freshman and eventually earning a scholarship.
Biggest plus: Nice athlete with natural receiving skills.
Biggest concern: He is nowhere near the receiver Horsted is.
Where they fit in NFL: Right in the middle today, an average group that could prove to be a lot better than that if Kmet takes a serious step forward this year and Allen has the kind of upside many think he does.
Potential: There will be a ton of hidden value if they block well for the run game, and Kmet and Allen do have the tools to become a top 10 duo.
Surprises: Don’t be surprised if Kmet is the Bears top receiver this season.
Disappointments: Kmet is already at his ceiling and this group turns out to be a drag on the passing game and offense as opposed to a savior.
Outcome: Kmet, Griffin, O’Shaughnessy and Allen make the 53, Allen ends up taking a lot of two-tight end set reps away from the vets and John ends up on the practice squad.

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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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