What if I told you that the best offensive lineman in this year’s NFL Draft was probably the least publicized in recent history? What if I told you that prospect was the smartest, most athletic offensive lineman on a SEC powerhouse team where he was an unsung team captain and a three-year starter? Let’s not fail to mention that he’s led his team to two College Football Playoff berths, and one National Championship. All while being honored as the 2015 Rimington Trophy winner as the most outstanding Center in college football. I’m sure you’d say that prospect deserved to be a first round draft pick, right? Well, that particular prospect is the Alabama Crimson Tide’s C Ryan Kelly and he probably won’t go in the draft until the 3rd round (at the earliest).
Now I’m sure you’re wondering, “Why would teams wait to pull the trigger on such a great player?” It’s a conundrum, I know. Kelly is a very solid all-around blocker who locks onto his assignments like a scud missile at most times. He uses good hand placement and constantly works his hips and his feet to stay in front of his assignment. As the Center of an offensive line that’s produced numerous draft picks in recent years, Kelly has had the full confidence of Alabama Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin to make the line adjustments that led to a National Championship for the Tide. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that Kelly’s line adjustments led to former star RB and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry rushing for a SEC single season record and nation leading 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns.
So why does Kelly get such little publicity? Is it because he’s a product of the Alabama offensive line’s system that doesn’t seem to fit well with NFL teams? Could it be simply because he’s a Center in a league that really doesn’t glorify that position as much as it should? Perhaps, it’s the fact that you have so many good prospects coming from Alabama that he just gets lost in the fray? Or is it a sum of all these things? We may not know, but what we do know is that Kelly has shown for several years now that he’s a consistent contributor to the success of the Crimson Tide and once given the opportunity he’s on track to continue that success for whichever team drafts him on April 28th.
What are your thoughts? Is Ryan Kelly an underrated prospect? Do teams view the wrong position on the offensive line as most important (Left Tackle instead of Center)? Who do you think will draft Kelly? Is he going to be another Alabama offensive line prospect that ends up lost in the NFL? Let us know what you think in the comment section below! Until next episode, peace!