With the 18th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Ryan Kelly, Center, Alabama. Kelly is a lot of peoples’ best interior lineman, here at Real Sport, not so much. As far as positives, coming from Alabama he is pro ready mentally and fundamentally. As far as the Colts are concerned, keeping Andrew Luck on his feet is priority one, two and three, and adding a player like Kelly is a pretty good step towards that. They’ll hope he can step right in and organise and lead the Colts o-line, and get this offense back on track.
There’s certainly plenty of boxes that Kelly can tick off for NFL teams. Three years starting experience and success at a top program, against quality opposition. Excellent discipline, only committing one penalty over the entire 2015 season, and in 2014 went the whole year without giving up a sack. He finished off his career with the Tide with both a National Title win as part of the team, and individual recognition with being awarded the Rimington Trophy given out to the top center in college for 2015. Some of the first round suggested grades many have given may arguably be a little generous though. I see a solid starter at the next level, but not an elite guy worthy of taking that high. He has decent enough size for the next level, and moves well, something that shows up when pulling from center as a lead run blocker at times. However, his power and punch, and overall functional strength are average. He’s performed to a high standard at the college level, as some of the stats mentioned above attest to, but has some questions in both his run blocking and pass protection that raise some concerns to keep that going in the pros. A big plus to his run game, as with Nick Martin, is certainly his intelligence as a blocker, showing excellent hand use and exceling at turning and redirecting his opponent to open running lanes up the middle. That said, he also has a bad habit of letting his enthusiasm and aggression get the better of him, which leads to lunging too much, losing balance, and ending up on the turf too often. In pass pro, Kelly tend to be rather inconsistent with his leverage and pad level at the point of attack, as well as a tendency to stand up too high in his stance post-snap of the ball. His injury history could raise an issue as well potentially. Kelly tore his ACL his senior year of high school that led to him redshirting his first season with Alabama, and since has missed time on numerous occasions with multiple other knee sprain issues as well as a concussion this season. Kelly will start in the NFL, likely for a long career, but first round or even second? Not for me.