The Colts made a number of personnel moves this offseason, but none were bigger than the selection of Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round of the NFL Draft. In fact, there may not have been many moves made throughout the NFL overall this offseason that will prove to be bigger than the Colts' addition of Kelly.
Pro Football Focus' John Breitenbach on Tuesday looked at the top twenty additions this offseason who could have the biggest immediate impact, and coming in at number ten was Ryan Kelly.
Since potential Hall-of-Fame center Jeff Saturday retired, the position has been one of concern for the Colts. Ryan Kelly has all the traits to make the spot his own for an entire career. The 18th-overall pick still has room for development in pass protection, but can make any block in the run game and has off-the-chart intangibles. Kelly can generate vertical movement in-line, as well as block linebackers in space at the second level.
There's little doubt that Kelly will have a huge impact on the Colts right away, and I think he definitely warrants inclusion on this list. The Colts' center position has been one of their weakest spots in recent years, with players such as Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, Khaled Holmes, and Jonotthan Harrison providing a revolving door of sorts at the position. There really wasn't anyone who stepped up to prove himself as the starter, and that's why the Colts went out and grabbed a starter in the first round of the draft. Kelly is the team's unquestioned starter at the position and has already been working with the first team in OTAs, and his addition up front could be huge for the Colts' offense.
Adding a quality center improves the entire line and should help Jack Mewhort at left guard and Hugh Thornton (or whoever wins the spot) at right guard. It should keep some of the pressure up the middle off of Luck, which is some of the hardest pressure to deal with as a quarterback. It should help to generate more running lanes for Frank Gore, who had a frustrating 2015 campaign. In short, the addition of Ryan Kelly should help the Colts in a number of different ways offensively, and the hope is that he will turn into the long-term starter at center just like Jeff Saturday was for so long in Indianapolis.
Also making the list was former Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who was ranked number six after signing with the Chicago Bears this offseason. So while the Colts lost a contributor, they also gained a significant one in Ryan Kelly, and I don't think anyone would argue the potential he has to make a huge impact right away on the Colts offense.