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NFL Mock Draft 2016: Mel Kiper projects Colts to draft a center in the first round

In his most recent mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects the Colts taking Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round.

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A large portion of mock drafts have, so far, had the Indianapolis Colts addressing their offensive line in the first round. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. recently released his second mock draft of the season, and he too has the Colts adding help up front - but not with one of the common picks.

In a lot of mock drafts, the Colts take someone like Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin or Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker in the first round.  In Kiper's recent mock draft, however, he has the Colts taking Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round with the 18th overall pick.

Forget best player available and instead consider Kelly at this slot as best offensive lineman available. The Colts don't just need better protection for Andrew Luck in pass protection, they also have the opportunity to protect Luck through the ability to run the ball more consistently, and Kelly is going to help immediately in that regard.

Kelly (6-5, 297 pounds) was a three-year starter at Alabama and in 2015 won the Rimington Award as the nation's top center.  He was an All-American during his senior season as well and allowed just four quarterback pressures all year without allowing a sack.  He started 35 games during his time at Alabama, turning into one of the best interior offensive linemen in the country.  He's widely regarded as the top center in this year's draft class.

It's a very interesting pick for the Colts, as depending on where you look this could be considered too high for Kelly to be drafted.  At the same time, however, the center position is the biggest need up front for the Colts and adding the draft's best at the position would certainly help, while it also appears that Kelly's stock could be rising.  A lot of people really like Ryan Kelly, including analyst Daniel Jeremiah:

Currently, the Colts have Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison at the center position, though neither are great options.  It would be wise for the team to add someone at the position this offseason, and it could possibly come in the first round.  I don't think this would be a bad pick for the Colts, as it would address the offensive line and one of the biggest areas of need along the line at that.