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Alabama Football 2016 NFL Draft Profiles: Ryan Kelly

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Just why is the 2015 Rimington Trophy winner's stock skyrocketing so quickly?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Kelly

Position: Center

Age: 23

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 311

Arm Length: 33.63 in.

Hand Width: 9.63 in.

Wingspan: 80.63 in.

40-Yard Dash: 5.03s

20-Yard Split: 2.93s

10-Yard Split: 1.76s

Short Shuttle: 4.59s

Three Cone: 7.58s

Bench Press: 26

Vertical Jump: 30 in.

Broad Jump: 8.58 ft.

SPARQ*: 105.2

Z-Score*: 0.1

*Note: These values were calculated by Zach Whitman of Fieldgulls.com and 3sigmaathlete.com. A higher SPARQ score means that player is more athletic. A positive Z-score means that the athlete has above average athleticism for an NFL player at his position, and a negative means that he is below average. If you want a more in depth explanation, here is my previous article.

Strengths

Ryan Kelly was a three year starter at center for the Crimson Tide and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center in 2015. He's a smart, tough player that has been the unquestioned leader among Alabama's offensive line for multiple years now. He only committed one penalty in 2015, and, according to Nick Saban, only missed a total of 8 assignments while not giving up a single sack over the entire season.

He has a tall, lean frame for a center, and couples that with impressive athleticism - his 40-yard dash was the fastest of all centers at this year's NFL combine.

Kelly is exceptional at turning defensive linemen to the side to clear a hole for a running back. His footwork, hand technique, and feel for creating lanes make him a great fit for a zone blocking scheme. Though not perfect, he's an accomplished pass protector that usually keeps the pocket clean for the quarterback.

Weaknesses

His lean frame does come with some drawbacks. In power situations, he struggles with keeping his center of gravity low enough to generate a strong push forwards. He also has a tendency to lock on to certain players when he releases into the second level, and he will occasionally miss a linebacker while focused on a less important target.

Verdict

Despite winning the Rimington and unanimously being selected as an All-American, Kelly was initially considered a mid-round pick at the end of the season. However, his eye-opening performance at the combine drew the eyes of many in the media. Since then, he has skyrocketed into the first round, with some predicting him to go as high as 16th overall. I've seen him linked to the Detroit Lions, the Indianapolis Colts, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Arizona Cardinals most often, putting him somewhere in the range of 16th-30th overall. The Cardinals in particular really need a center, and if he lasts that long, I can't see them passing up the opportunity at pick 30.