Draft 2018 – Pick #6: John Kelly, RB, Tennessee

One of the top high school running backs in the state of Michigan in 2014, Kelly took his game to the SEC instead of signing with Big Ten schools. The three-star recruit and all-state pick played in 10 games as a true freshman, rushing for 166 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries. In 2016, Kelly only started one of 12 games played as Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara, and even quarterback Joshua Dobbs, had more carries. But he finished second to Dobbs with 630 rushing yards and scored five times on just 98 totes. Kelly caught six passes for 51 yards, as well. A national audience saw his breakout performance in 2017, as he had 128 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. He finished the year with 11 starts, leading the Vols with 831 yards and nine touchdowns and 189 carries. He was also used more regularly in the passing game, catching 37 passes for 299 yards. Kelly was suspended for one game after being arrested for misdemeanor drug possession (marijuana) after a traffic stop for a burnt-out headlight.
Kelly is a little undersized but is a tough runner and capable pass catcher who has the potential to play all three downs if needed. He can add additional yardage with plus contact balance and an ability to push through tackles, but his average burst between the tackles and around the edge could mean he?ll have to live the life of a grinder. Kelly is a solid committee back with the ability to handle full-time duties if called upon.
  • Stout and tough
  • Runs with low center of gravity and exceptional balance through contact
  • Creates yardage through power
  • Absorbs angle tackles and maintains his track
  • Often takes multiple tacklers to finish him
  • Runs behind his pads and hits it full-throttle into collision
  • Gave Ronnie Harrison work when they went head to head
  • Stiff-arm is just that
  • Able to push tacklers aside around the edge
  • Decent gather and cut footwork on second level
  • Competitive pass blocker who will sort and square opponents
  • More dangerous as pass catcher than numbers would dictate
  • Often run into no-win situations on flat routes
  • Displays wiggle to separate on route breaks
  • Slightly undersized
  • Average quickness and below average speed
  • Inconsistent running away from tacklers around the corner or down the field
  • Lacks the "hit it and go" to clear traffic through line of scrimmage
  • Looks for lanes, but misses creases
  • Lacks creativity as inside runner
  • The path is the path
  • Needs to press line of scrimmage a shade longer to open cutbacks
  • Tardy to accelerate after jump cuts
  • Scouts say character is a little spotty
Lance Zierlein (NFL.COM)

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