2016 NFL Draft Prospect: Ryan Kelly
By Travis Wakeman
To this point, the San Diego Chargers have not signed a center in free agency, leading fans to believe that the team may indeed stick with Chris Watt. Though many fans would likely be quite critical of that decision, it may be the route that Tom Telesco has chosen to take.
However, the 2016 NFL draft looms.
Today, we are going to take a look at the player who is likely the best prospect at the center position in this draft, Alabama’s Ryan Kelly. Derrick Henry put up massive numbers running the ball for the Crimson Tide last year, en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Many of the holes he ran through were opened by Kelly.
A two-year starter in the SEC conference, Kelly measured at 6’4″ and 311 pounds at the scouting combine. As Pro Football Focus notes, he didn’t give up a single sack in those two years. Kelly has a nastiness about him and is solid as in both run blocking and pass protection.
In the video below, Kelly answers questions at this year’s scouting combine.
You rarely see him moved backwards, something Philip Rivers would appreciate. He was also one of, if not the most consistent player on an offensive line for the eventual national champions last season. He would be able to come in and be an instant upgrade over Watt and a player who could help to improve the running game from day one. Melvin Gordon would appreciate that.
Watt played in just five games during an injury-plagued season for the team last year, but what he showed on the field wasn’t very promising. Many fans likely felt the team would try to bring in a center through free agency, but when Alex Mack became too expensive, the Chargers chose not to sign a player such as Stefen Wisniewski or Manny Ramirez. At least not yet.
Kelly would be a terrific selection for the Chargers. He’s a player that will start in the NFL for the next decade, but the Chargers would most likely have to use their second-round pick—No. 35 overall—to get him. That’s if a team doesn’t grab him before that, which is a possibility.
The Chargers have other draft needs, but the offensive line played so poorly last year and was one of the biggest reasons the team plummeted to the bottom of the AFC West. This would be a great chance to improve that unit dramatically.