Colts take a center in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft
The Indianapolis Colts address the protection issues and take a center in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft at ESPN.
The Colts desperately need some help along the middle of the offensive line. They’ve needed help ever since Andrew Luck entered the league. GM Ryan Grigson has used six draft picks on offensive linemen, and just one of them (Jack Mewhort) has panned out. They’ve also made a number of free agent signings to fix the line, and none of those have worked out either.
With protection an issue, the Colts are expected to take an offensive lineman early in the 2016 NFL Draft. To that end, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Colts taking a center in his Mock Draft 2.0.
With the 18th pick in the draft, Kiper has the Colts taking Alabama center Ryan Kelly. Here are his thoughts on the pick:
"Forget best player available and instead consider Kelly at this slot as best offensive lineman available. The Colts don’t just need better protection for Andrew Luck in pass protection, they also have the opportunity to protect Luck through the ability to run the ball more consistently, and Kelly is going to help immediately in that regard."
First off, Kiper analysis of the Colts is much better than in his last pick when he had the Colts taking Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker (and saying he’d start at the position in Week 1, forgetting the Colts just signed Anthony Castonzo to a long term deal). Besides that, Kelly actually fits a much more prominent need for the Colts as well.
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Jonotthan Harrison and Khaled Holmes have not panned out for the Colts. Neither has proven to be a starting quality player at center. One of the most important parts of the Manning-era Colts was Jeff Saturday anchoring the offensive line. While replacing a player of that talent might be wishful thinking, the Colts have to get Luck some semblance of continuity in front of him. Luck needs someone reliable snapping him the ball.
Kelly is a very talented center who comes from an NFL factory. The 6-4, 302 pound center was a three year starter and team captain for Alabama. Most profiles seem to think he needs to add size, but at over 300-pounds it is unclear how he could so and retain his speed (we’ll know more at the scouting combine next week).
He is more of a day two pick, but being arguably the best center prospect he could easily end up in the first round. Kelly’s generally listed as an average blocker in both the run and pass but has the foundation and intelligence to get much better. His best attribute is said to be his awareness who made good adjustments in the blocking in a system that puts an emphasis on the offensive line.
Considering Alabama’s run heavy offense, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Kelly is a better run blocker and would often create large running holes for the ball carrier. He’s good in space and identifying not only who he should block but also sticking with his assignment. Although sometimes he tries to engage too early and ends up taking himself out of position to make an effective block.
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If the Colts are going to look at the offensive line in the first round, the focus should be on the interior of the line. The Colts have shown that they will go with the best available player based on their evaluations. There is enough glaring need on the roster (protection, pass rush) that they might want to re-evaluate their approach as they are hit and miss on best available over need (and vice-versa).
This pick still address a clear need and it is hard to argue with the Colts potentially finding a long term option at center.