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Film Room: Ryan Kelly’s Top 10 highlights of the 2019 season

Kelly earned his first career Pro Bowl in 2019

Carolina Panthers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts Center Ryan Kelly has enjoyed a fairly successful career in the NFL thus far. He was drafted by the team in the first round (18th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. After a few up and down seasons at the beginning of his career which featured an injury plagued 2017 campaign, Kelly turned the corner in 2018 with the addition of left guard Quenton Nelson. Since then, he has been among the best Centers in football and made his first career Pro Bowl this past season.

In honor of his first Pro Bowl appearance, I will be breaking down his Top 10 highlights/blocks from this past season to truly show how talented this young Center truly is.


10.) Finding Work Against Atlanta

If you ask any offensive line coach about the key points of playing on the line, one of the first things they will tell you is to “find work.” This is a term coined to mean linemen should always find a player to block, even if that player is engaged with somebody else. Here Kelly doesn’t have a defender in front of him so he seeks out the man that Mark Glowinski is blocking. Kelly hits the defender square in the chest and sends him to the turf with a powerful punch.


9.) Overpowering Force in the Middle

Coming in at number nine is a favorite of mine as Kelly showcases his slick combination of power and athleticism in one clip. He’s lightning quick out of stance and gets a good jump on the backside 3-tech defender. He gets his hands inside early and simply overpowers the helpless defensive tackle and drives him into the ground. In a game where the Colts really struggled, this play really stood out as a positive to me.


8.) Climbing to the Next Level

In the 2016 draft cycle, the major appeal of a player like Kelly was his elite athleticism for the position. He tested as a 95th percentile athlete for a Center and plays like this show that elite skill. Here he effortlessly climbs to the second level and cuts off the strong side linebacker to create a lane for running back Nyheim Hines. Notice how fast he is able to climb, twist his body, and wall off the linebacker on this rep. Just an outstanding talent.


7.) Overpowering D.J. Reader

While this clip is eerily similar to the clip against the Raiders, there is one small discrepancy here. This one came against D.J. Reader. Reader isn’t a superstar or anything in this league but he is one of the strongest nose tackles in the NFL and even gave Quenton Nelson a good bit of trouble back in 2018. Despite this reputation that Reader has, Kelly is able to wear the nose tackle down and shove him aside effortlessly. Notice how Kelly adjusts his hand placement before finishing the block on the play. Great stuff from the Pro Bowler.


6.) Readjusting for the Finish

This next clip looks like the start of a typical pass blocking rep where Kelly stonewalls his man and then we get on to the next play. What makes this play great though is that once Kelly wins this rep, he starts fighting for more. He readjusts his hands inside and gives a good punch to the pass rusher who loses his balance and falls to the ground. The ability to readjust mid-block to get the finish is simply remarkable.


5.) Overwhelming Jurrell Casey

Kicking off our top five was a block that blew me away when I first watched it. The play is a disaster overall for the Colts as Glowinski loses his spot on the twist and the Titans are able to force a bad interception on the play by Jacoby Brissett. The only highlight of the play is watching Kelly against Casey. The rep doesn’t start out well for Kelly as Casey is gaining ground using a long arm. Kelly is able to anchor well and fire forward with a devastating punch that nearly knocks Casey back to the ground. This is some wicked power by Kelly to do this to one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL for the past seven or eight years.


4.) Rumbling Around the Edge for a Huge Block

Getting back to that Dolphins game, I need to highlight Kelly’s athleticism yet again. Look at this block in front of the play by Kelly! His ability to fly out of that stance and sprint ahead of the play is incredible. Running back Marlon Mack, wisely, waits for Kelly’s block on the outside but I’m not even convinced that Mack would have beat him to this spot. We are truly watching a rare athlete at the Center position and the Colts are smart to utilize this elite ability by Kelly.


3.) Running a Defensive Tackle off the Screen

Kicking off the top three is a throwback all the way to week one of the regular season. The Colts were down big until midway into the third quarter when Marlon Mack ripped off this 63 yard score. The blocking all around is incredible but look at Kelly engage his man at the line and quickly run him off to the left and out of the play. He is moving a 300+ pound man with ease which is simply insane.


2.) Twisting and Driving a Defender into the Ground

Coming in at number two is a play that has been replayed and broken down by many sites over the past year for just how great of a block it was. This block is essentially a teach tape for how to run block as a center in the NFL. Kelly gets his hands inside and drives his defender off the ball. He then twists his hips which causes the defender to fall off balance before Kelly finishes the block. The level of flexibility, athleticism, and strength to pull off this type of block is why Kelly is a top player in this league.


1.) Vaulting Vita Vea

What could possibly beat that last clip? How about a matchup between two of the strongest and most physical players in the league? The matchup between Kelly and Vita Vea in week 14 was basically a battle between Goliath and Goliath. Two heavyweights exchanging blows all game long. Here Kelly is able to get the best of the battle. He stalemates the monstrous defensive tackle at the line and does a great job of fighting throughout the block. While he does get driven back a bit, he does a great job of maintaining his anchor and hand placement throughout. Once he gets Vea slightly off balance, he tosses the 350 pound DT to the ground with ease.


Final Thoughts

Ryan Kelly is a very very good Center and he will, deservingly, be the top paid player at his position soon. Colts fans, enjoy getting to watch him and Nelson playing side by side every Sunday for the next 5+ years. It truly is a pleasure watching these two dominate.