John Kelly Is Potentially A Very Undervalued Player That Could Be A Steal At The Running Back Position In This 2018 NFL Draft Class.
Like Kerryon Johnson, John Kelly is an underrated running back prospect that could be an immediate starter for a team out of the middle or late rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. The depth of this running back class will probably push Kelly down draft boards, making him potentially a great value for a team in the middle rounds.
John Kelly has among the most well-rounded games in this draft class. His contact balance, power, elusiveness, and receiving ability are all traits that could help make him a three-down running back at the next level, despite the fact that he will likely fall below some of the other more specialized backs in this class.
John Kelly Has Among The Best Balance In This Class
Balance and willingness through contact immediately stand out when you watch Kelly’s tape. He is one of the most tenacious runners in this class, and his ability to maintain his balance through even solid contact is beyond impressive.
His short, muscular frame gives him a very low center of gravity that he capitalizes on by keeping consistently good pad level and making good use of his ridiculously fast and coordinated feet. His ability to take hits and keep running is consistently throughout his tape.
In the play below, Kelly gets some forward momentum and runs through the initial arm tackle. That’s something that you will notice with his tape. Arm tackles rarely bring him to the ground. Notice how low Kelly gets when contact is incoming. He runs through the arm tackle and takes on contact head on. Despite a very solid hit from the defender, Kelly’s pad level, low center of gravity and balance allow him to bounce off the second defender and keep moving.
John Kelly has very quick feet and has good lower body coordination. The ankle tackles that I demonstrated in my profile of Rashaad Penny just don’t show up in Kelly’s tape. In the play below watch how quickly his feet move when he gets into space and watch how he maneuvers his inside foot at the last second to minimize the contact that the Florida defender is able to get on him. He drives down with his outside foot to power through a solid ankle tackle and keeps running. As a bonus, he doesn’t go down at the end of this play, running into the end zone.
In addition to his ability to bounce off and power through contact, Kelly utilizes a very strong stiff arm to throw off defenders. Many backs simply use the stiff arm to gain additional yards as they are pushed to the sideline. Kelly has a violent stiff arm that he uses to completely break tackles and maintain forward momentum, picking up good yards after contact.
In the play below, Kelly displays good balance and body control to give his hip at the line of scrimmage, using the defender’s momentum against him to slip the initial tackle. He shows nice burst to get from a complete stop up to top speed and into open field quickly. Once he gets there, he uses his stiff arm to fight off two defenders down the sideline before a third defender is finally able to wrestle him to the ground.