2016 NFL Draft: Colts get an A+ for drafting Ryan Kelly with 18th pick

It's not often that NFL teams go for a true center in the first round of the draft, but that's exactly what the Colts did on Thursday.

With the 18th overall pick, Indianpolis selected former Alabama center Ryan Kelly. A three-year starter at Alabama, Kelly took home the Rimington Trophy in 2015, an award that goes to the college football's top center.

CBS Sports NFL writer Pete Prisco is almost always a fan of any team that beefs up its offensive line, so it's not shock to see that Prisco really liked this pick for the Colts.

Kelly's stock shot up at the NFL combine in February, where he showed off his athleticism. The center ran a 5.03 40-yard dash, which was the fastest of any center and the sixth-fastest of any linemen in Indy.

According to the guys over at NFLDraftScout.com, it's Kelly's athleticism that will likely allow him to succeed at the pro level: "Quite athletic, slipping to the second level easily while run blocking and mirroring defenders while in pass protection. Has not allowed a sack the past two years."

Not only did he go two years without allowing a sack, but Kelly was also only called for one penalty in all of 2015.

True centers aren't normally drafted this high, but the Colts obviously felt that Kelly was worth the pick, which makes sense because finding a way to protect Andrew Luck was one of the main things the Colts were looking to do in this draft.

As the 18th overall pick, Kelly will take home about $10.5 million over the life of his rookie deal.

Before this year, there had really only been three true centers taken in the first round of the draft since 2010 (Travis Frederick in 2013, Mike Pouncey in 2011, Maurkice Pouncey in 2010).

You could also add former Florida State center Cameron Erving to that list, but he spent his first season in 2015 playing guard for the Browns.

Getting drafted as a center isn't the only thing that makes Kelly a rarity, either. Although you regularly see Alabama players selected in the first round of the draft, it's not often that one of those players is an offensive linemen.

With his selection on Thursday, Kelly became the first lineman from Alabama to go in the first round since 2013 when Chance Warmack went 10th overall to the Titans.

The Colts gave Ryan Kelly a call in the first round. (ESPN)
The Colts gave Ryan Kelly a call in the first round. (ESPN screencap)

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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