The Indianapolis Colts took the safest pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by selecting center Ryan Kelly. It may have been a boring move, but it’s one that will help protect the team’s most valuable player.
When the Colts took center Ryan Kelly with the 18th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Many mock drafts had the Colts picking Kelly in the first round, it simply made too much sense.
While the pick was predicted months before, it was a huge step for the team. Since the Andrew Luck era began, the Colts have started five centers over four years. They are desperate to find a longterm option at the position who can build the same kind of rapport that Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday had.
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According to Pro Football Focus Kelly wasn’t penalized and didn’t allow a single sack in 1,032 snaps last season. Of those 1,032 plays, 488 were pass-blocking plays. Luck has to feel good hearing that.
From 2012-2014, no other quarterback was sacked or hit more often than Luck. Eventually, those hits took their toll and the punishment caught up to him in 2015, costing Luck nine games last season. The Colts (like most teams) need Luck on the field if they hope to be competitive in the coming year.
The Colts also love Kelly. Months before the draft, Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson was already raving about Kelly. The only Pro Day that both Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano attended together? Alabama’s.
Kelly, a three-year starter with the Crimson Tide, definitely looks pro-ready. In May, Pagano spoke highly of Kelly saying that he was “way ahead” in adjusting to the pro level. Playing against SEC competition, Kelly squared off a number of future NFL players, including his own teammates during practice at Alabama.
While Kelly may have rough patches in his rookie season, the Colts seem confident that he will develop into an excellent player and anchor for the offensive line. The bar for Kelly to clear isn’t high, and based off what we’ve heard so far, it sounds like he’s already cleared it with room to spare.