Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: John Kelly
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Los Angeles Rams
College Team: Tennessee Volunteers
Draft Status: Round six, 176th overall
- Height: 5’9 7/8’’
- Weight: 216 Pounds
- Hands: 9 3/8”
- Arm Length: 31 3/8’’
- Bench Press (225 Pounds): 15 Reps
- 40 Yard Dash*: 4.50 – 4.65? (Kelly didn’t run at the Combine, and ran a 4.50 and a 4.65 in his two tries at his Pro Day, which doesn’t clear up any questions about his athleticism.)
- 3-Cone: 7.13
- Broad Jump: 120”
- 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.51
- Vertical: 35’’
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- Elite balance through contact
- Falls forward for extra yardage
- One of the best receivers in this year’s draft – good hands and good route runner
- Above average vision as an interior runner
- Runs violently and rarely goes down on first contact
- Somewhat undersized (put on weight for the Combine, but played at closer to 205 than 215)
- Mediocre athlete (at best); lacks long speed and has average agility
- Was suspended due to drug possession
- Lack of significant draft capital (sixth round) makes him somewhat expendable
- Weak raw production numbers
Kelly excels in the pass game and has the power to be a decent goal line back. Finding his immediate opportunities is challenging though, due to the presence of fantasy MVP Todd Gurley. Gurley played 84 percent of running back snaps on the Rams and had 73 percent of the running back touches on the team, so there is a small window for Kelly to make an impact. If Gurley were to go down, Kelly would probably ascend to mid-RB2 status; he’s more talented than Malcolm Brown and would lead the committee in this scenario.
Kelly was one of draft Twitter’s favorite running backs this year, so seeing him land in a backfield with Gurley hurts his value immensely. As mentioned earlier, Gurley rarely came off the field last season and dominates touches in the backfield. As a top-three player in our dynasty ADP now, there’s little more to say about Gurley’s presence – it crushes Kelly’s value.
Because of Gurley, Kelly can’t be counted on to contribute anything in the short-term. He has handcuff “value” and will likely garner a few touches a game as Gurley takes a breather, but that’s essentially all. Kelly will be impossible to start unless Gurley succumbs to injury, and his value is completely tied to the Rams’ lead back.
Gurley is a free agent in two seasons. He’s a valuable piece of the Rams offense and it would be surprising to see him wearing another uniform, although the 2020 running back class looks to be another special one. If he departs, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams draft another back from this group rather than rely on Kelly to carry the load.
Kelly is talented enough to be an effective goal-line back and committee back as a pass catcher, but it’s unlikely that he ever warrants a workhorse role that some were hoping he’d inherit. Because of this, I think Kelly would be an immediate sell candidate if Gurley were to ever get hurt.
Kelly reminds me a lot of Chris Ivory. Ivory is (was?) a powerful runner with the ability to contribute in the passing game. Ivory didn’t receive many opportunities on his first contract in New Orleans, but was able to display his three-down ability once he landed on the Jets. On the high end of the comparison spectrum, Kelly’s play style also reminds me of Doug Martin (minus the draft capital).
Projected Range for Rookie Drafts
Kelly was routinely being selected in the middle of the second round of pre-draft ADP mocks. His pre-draft ADP was 15th overall, going as high as eighth in one draft. Things have since changed significantly.
Kelly sits at 40th in DLF’s rookie rankings, with a high mark of 28 and two rankers choosing to leave him out of their top 50 altogether. He comes in as rookie RB13, with a high rank of 11 and a low rank of 17.
According to DLF’s Rookie ADP, Kelly is 31st overall (3.07) in May mocks. The earliest he was drafted was 22nd overall, while he fell to 39th overall in two different drafts. In my opinion, his talent is worth gambling on in the fourth round, despite the landing spot being unfavorable.
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- 2020 NFL Draft Prospect – Zack Moss, RB Utah - April 17, 2020