John Kelly

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By: Willie Lovato

Position: RB

The Pros

  • Tough runner
  • Good balance
  • Receiving ability
  • Pass blocking effort

Tough Runner - He might not be the biggest running back, standing 5'9" and weighing 205 pounds, but Kelly is as tough of a runner as any in this draft class. 

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Good Balance - Lazy arm tackles and bad technique are not enough when attempting to get Kelly to the ground. You may slow him down a bit but his great balance and body control after initial contact helps him continue picking up yards. The arm tackles will get ran through and the bad technique will get you tossed to the side.

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Receiving ability - Kelly should be able to find the field early on in his NFL career because of his ability to contribute as a pass-catcher. Not only can he make some plays after he has the ball in his hands, but he flashed some good route running to create separation against bigger slower defenders. Kelly ranked 7th among draft eligible running backs in yards per route and caught 82% of his targets in 2017 according to PFF.

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Pass blocking effort - Some toughness from Kelly's running style transfers over to his blocking. His technique and effort are more often than not enough to help buy his quarterbacks a little more time.


The cons

  • Speed
  • Athletic testing
  • Size
  • Embraces contact to a fault
  • Impatient between the tackles

Speed - The problem with a prospect not running the forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine is the fact that pro-day forty times get reported incorrectly. You more than likely can find three different reported times on how fast Kelly ran. When in doubt, trust a reliable source like Player Profiler. Kelly's 4.69 forty was way slower than a lot of people projected and warrants the red-flags being waived because of it. His speed score ranked in the 23rd percentile according to Player Profiler. That time introduces questions about how Kelly will fair against the biggest and fastest players in the sport.

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Athletic testing - The rest of Kelly's athletic testing didn't do him any favors either. His 94.3 SPARQ-x rating landed him among the 8th percentile. Not good.

Size - He is not tiny by any means but Kelly is slightly undersized for a prospect that many believe can be an every down running back.

Embraces contact to a fault - While we all enjoy seeing a touch runner embrace contact, the body of that player may not enjoy it long term. Kelly will have to learn when to embrace contact and when to attempt to avoid contact to help lengthen his NFL career.

Impatient between the tackles - Kelly is somewhat of a straight line, get as much as possible, type of running back. His impatience causes him to miss running lanes and run into his own lineman before the blocks can set up.



It's hard not to like John Kelly's running style. He is a tough runner with the ability to contribute on passing downs, both traits that teams like. He may never be the main back in a backfield but he can definitely bring some value to a backfield based on his skill set.

Fantasy Impact:

Kelly is one of the hottest names in fantasy due to his running style. I personally like him more as an NFL Draft prospect than I do as a dynasty pick in rookie drafts. The athletic testing raises real concern around his true potential. Running violent also seems less appealing if you're a dynasty owner. His lack of speed and athleticism does not project as a guy who will command a workhorse role, but rather a nice complimentary role.

According to DLF's April ADP (average draft position), Kelly is being drafted as the #9 RB and #15 overall which puts him as an early second-round pick. While I don't think that's insanity, I will be passing on Kelly that early based on other options being drafted behind him.