Colts rookie Ryan Kelly already ahead in NFL development
The Indianapolis Colts went for the safest pick in the first round of the NFL and early indications are the team nailed the selection.
Former Alabama center Ryan Kelly might not have the steep learning curve that most rookies face in the NFL. The Colts rookies are in Indianapolis for minicamp this weekend and the team is getting a better idea of what they have in this year’s class.
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Every scouting report on Kelly implied that he was the least likely to fail out of the 2016 first round picks, and the Colts were nearly universally praised for taking someone who can actually protect Andrew Luck. Kelly certainly has a lot of experience against top tier talent, from playing in the SEC as well as practicing against a plethora of future NFL players at Alabama.
The addition of Kelly is sure to make offensive line coach Joe Philbin’s job much easier this season. Coach Chuck Pagano praised Kelly’s abilities and is impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“It’s really early obviously. I’m excited to look at the tape and I’m trying to get my eyes on, like everybody else, try to get your eyes on everybody. He’s a pro,” Pagano said. “He’s got a long way to go and I’m not going to set him up to fail or anything.
"“But coming from the program that he came from and playing at the level he’s played at, you can tell that he’s way ahead. Sitting in the meetings, sitting in coach Philbin and coach (Joe) Gilbert and coach (Frank) Giufre’s meeting and spending some time with them as they install what we had today to give them from a run-pass game protection, things like that, it was pretty easy and the recall was excellent. You can just tell. He has presence. He fits right in. We knew this. It’s not too big for him, but again, like Kelly they all have a lot of work to do, they have a long way to go, but a great start.”"
To his credit, Kelly knows he has his work cut out for him and this won’t be an easy transition. But Kelly won’t be alone in learning the playbook as offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is installing a new system.
"“I think playing for coach (Nick) Saban and playing in a pro-style offense helped me a lot. Just being able to identify defenses probably makes for a quicker transition to the next level.“Talking to Andrew earlier, he said, ‘Look, we’re all learning it.’ It’s probably a little helpful that way,” Kelly said. “But at the same time, you’re going from a college offense to the NFL. Things are going to be more challenging.“It’s going to take time.”"
Kelly also has a point about playing in a pro style offense. The recent transition in college football to a spread offense has led to a dearth of talent along the offensive lines in the NFL. Most linemen barely have to hold blocks anymore and rarely line up in anything more than a two-point stance. Having a center who’s spent time in an offense that resembles what most NFL teams run is incredibly valuable.
More and more it sounds as if the Colts have finally found their elusive center who can anchor the offensive line and provide some leadership. We’ve talked about just how valuable Jeff Saturday was to the Colts offense of the 2000s, and now it looks like they’ve found their man in Kelly.