For all of the concerns about Ryan Grigson’s drafting in Indianapolis, he did indeed nail his final first round selection with the Colts. Last year he drafted Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round, and Kelly already looks the part.
As we wrote about in January, Kelly was incredibly impressive: In his rookie season he started all 16 games at center and didn’t allow a single sack in 626 passing snaps (according to PFF) - while, according to Football Outsiders’ the Colts were first in the NFL in adjusted line yards when rushing up the middle. Kelly’s impact with the Colts could clearly be felt last year, and as he’ll turn 24 this offseason, he’s a long-term answer at the position.
Yesterday, NFL.com’s Elliott Harrison listed his All-Under-25 team, and Kelly made the list.
Man, there were a number of impactful rookies on the offensive line last year. Kelly helped a Colts unit filled with youth gel late in the season. Case in point: The must-win game in Minnesota, when Indy started three rookies up front without allowing so much as one sack against the vaunted Vikings defense. They shut out the Raiders the next week, too. Kelly didn't allow one all season.
There has been a lot of discussion and questions about the Colts’ offensive line in recent years, but it seems to slowly be coming together. With Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Jack Mewhort at left guard, and Ryan Kelly at center, the Colts on paper look to have a good left side. Then with Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark among the guys competing on the right side, the hope would be that the Colts can wind up with a solid offensive line.
A big part of the Colts’ offensive line, both now and in the future, will be Ryan Kelly. He’s a smart guy who can help with the protections and who can also play very well. We saw him transition almost seamlessly to the NFL level and look the part of a reliable center, and there’s a lot to be encouraged by him up front.