NFL begins draft Thursday and center Ryan Kelly may be first from Alabama taken

The NFL team that selects Ryan Kelly will be getting many benefits

Everyone knows that the National Football League is a business as much as it is a sport, and that some do it better than others -- in the executive offices and/or on the field. Growing evidence is that some of those in positions to make draft selections have done their homework on Ryan Kelly, and the center from Alabama may have moved into first round status.


Kelly, 6-5, 300, spent five years in the Alabama system: redshirted as a true freshman in 2011, backup to Barrett Jones in 2012; and starter for three years. He left Alabama with a basketful of honors, including being selected team captain. He was a consensus All-America, winner of the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center, winner of the Jacobs Trophy as the best blocker in the Southeastern Conference, semifinalist for the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman, and SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.


He did not allow a sack in Alabama’s 2015 national championship season, while handling the difficult duties of calling line blocks and snapping the ball to a quarterback who ordinarily was in spread formation.


Kelly had an impressive 88.4 per cent grade in blocking, and had five games above 90 per cent. He had 16 knockdown blocks.


In some 1,000 plays, Kelly was guilty of only one penalty and no holding calls.


Kelly was not an overpowering blocker against the big nose tackles, but a counterbalance was his quickness that enabled him to reach linebackers.


Centers in the NFL frequently have reasonable longevity. The team that gets Kelly will likely keep him as long as possible.


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