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Houston Texans

Prospect of the Day: Ryan Kelly


Alabama C Ryan Kelly
6-4, 311 lb.

Played his HS football in Ohio (Lakota West - West Chester, Ohio)
Under Armour All-American in HS
Ranked as the nation's No. 2 center by
No. 15 overall prospect in the state of Ohio (
Tore his ACL as a senior, so he redshirted his first year at Alabama
Three year starter in the SEC - one national champ., two CFP appearances, one SEC champ

2015 Rimington Trophy Award (best center in college football)
1st team All-America selection (consensus - 2015)
1st team All-SEC (coaches & media - 2015)
2015 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year
2015 Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient (SEC's top OL)
2015 Semifinalist for the Outland Trophy
2015 Semifinalist for the Campbell Award
Leader of the OL that blocked for Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry

Combine Measurements
Arms: 33 ⅝"
Hand: 9 ⅝"
40-yd dash: 5.03 seconds (1.75 ten yard split - 5th best at Combine)
Bench Press (225 lb.) - 26 reps
Vertical Jump: 30"
Broad Jump: 8-7
3-cone - 7.58 seconds
Short Shuttle - 4.59 seconds

Drafting a center in the first round is far from the sexiest thing a team can do. But, the results are pretty telling. Over the past ten years, there have been six centers drafted and five of them have been to the Pro Bowl. Furthermore, four of them have been to multiple Pro Bowls. Eric Wood (BUF), Alex Mack (CLE), Travis Frederick (DAL), NIck Mangold (NYJ) and Maurkice Pouncey (PIT) have been mainstays at the position for their teams. They have all played with the team that drafted them, until this year when Mack departed for Atlanta. The only center to not make it to Pro Bowl in this mix is Cameron Erving, who was only drafted last year and played center just half a season at FSU before getting drafted by Cleveland.

Now, the cardinal sin when it comes to draft analysis is to use draft history to draw any predictable conclusions about an upcoming draft. It's just a trend, not a decision maker.

That said, Kelly looks the part of a first round offensive lineman, regardless of position. Having studied each of the guys noted above, I have little doubt that, as long as he stays healthy, Kelly can fit right into that group, even more so than Erving did, and will do in the future.

He's tough and accomplished. He's smart and competitive. He's a gamer and fought through some injury adversity. He's what teams want in a football player, regardless of position.

"He's a great leader and the heart and the soul of the offense" - Derrick Henry on Kelly after the center won the Rimington Award

"He (Kelly) has to make sure everybody has the right calls on the OL, everybody's doing the right thing. He does a great job at his job, but he has to make sure other guys are doing their jobs, so that's why I call him the heart of the offense." - Henry

(h/t to for the quotes)

What to like
--Permanent team captain - Kelly noted it's the most valuable award he won
--Has put on some weight since the season, bulked up to 311 lb. for the Combine.
--Footwork is outstanding
--Ability to reach penetrating DT in the A gaps - wow (did this against LSU too)
--Committed one penalty and no holding calls on 1,012 snaps
--All business and completely in charge at the line of scrimmage
--Did not allow a sack (and only four QB hurries) in 2015
--Excellent job posting DL on a double team and moving up to 2nd level
--Seen him "turn" than any other C even those w/initial alignment, leverage advantage
--Will pop and pull on Packers sweep from center - tough to do.

What needs some work
--More what not to like than needs work - been beat up a bunch in three years in SEC
--Can get knocked back a bit against stout 3-4 two gaps noses
--By the end of the season, he might be well under 300 lb.
--There are times when he loses his base and feet come off the ground
--When he gets up to second level, he gets too far up field at times, allows LB to "run behind"
--As such, need to be more under control going to 2nd level - work flatter to the LOS, not so much up the field

Heading into the draft process, I was fairly convinced that Kelly was the top center in this draft and it's easy to see why. This is a pretty deep position in this draft too, but Kelly sits atop the list. His demeanor, the pop in his pads, the control of the offense at the line of scrimmage - it's all there with Kelly. Can he move into the first round? Nothing will surprise me, but if history is our guide, in some sense, he can move into the first round and will shine when he does.

Check out photos of the top 100 players of this year's draft class according to Texans analyst John Harris.

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