Ryan Kelly was the senior center for the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2015 National Championship team, anchoring the offensive line. Kelly had a difficult task in replacing former Rimington Award winner Barrett Jones in 2013, but ended up winning the award himself in 2015.
Kelly helped 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry consistently establish a strong, north-to-south running game with a series of half back dives, cutbacks, and draws. For an Alabama offense that isn’t particularly flashy, Kelly was the ideal glue guy for the Tide the last three seasons.
Ryan Kelly has the highest projected grade in the 2016 NFL Draft among prospective center prospects. He could go as high the late first round, but will probably be off the board by the middle of the second round, right where the Atlanta Falcons are picking.
While it could potentially make sense to draft the 6’4″, 297 pound center who starred at nearby Tuscaloosa, the Atlanta Falcons don’t have the luxury of being able to trade up in this year’s NFL Draft. Atlanta won’t use its No. 17 overall pick in the first round on a center and should not trade up to get one in the second round.
Unless the Atlanta Falcons are willing to move back from No. 17 in the first round to acquire a more favorable position to draft Ryan Kelly, then the Falcons are probably going to have to settle for the No. 2 or No. 3 best center in this year’s draft. Kelly may have the highest upside, but could already be off the board before Atlanta is willing to select him in the middle of the second round this spring.
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