With the departure of RB Todd Gurley, the Rams are likely in the market for a running back. The 2020 NFL Draft has quite a few interesting prospects that have already captured the attention of the Rams. This includes former UCLA RB Joshua Kelley.
Initially, Kelley wasn’t thought of as much of a prospect due to mixed collegiate career results. However, his NFL Combine stats and Senior Bowl appearance were good enough to set up an interview with the Rams. But would he be a good fit in Los Angeles?
College Stats and Honors:
2019: 229 attempts, 1,060 rushing yards, 12 total touchdowns and 71 receiving yards.
Career: 454 attempts, 2,303 rushing yards, 25 total touchdowns and 264 receiving yards.
Honors: Second-team All-PAC-12 (2019)
Kelley is balanced as a pure runner. His speed isn’t elite but he has the capability of bouncing on the outside edge. Likewise, he doesn’t mind and will utilize his shoulder to plow into defenders. Kelley may not be the biggest back, but he shows no fear and will run over defenders if given the opportunity.
You could say that Kelley has been the underdog throughout his collegiate career. He first started at UC Davis and transferred to UCLA. He came to UCLA at a bad time considering how awful the team played in recent years. Despite all of that, he’s made incredible plays with limited protection and a lost team overall. This becomes more evident seeing him excel during the Senior Bowl finishing with 105 yards on 15 carries.
While Kelley is a pure runner, he lacks a lot of what’s needed in a current NFL running back. He’s not much of a pass blocker, which is disappointing since he’s a decent size at 5’11” and 219 pounds. He wasn’t particularly productive in the passing game either. These things in mind, he probably couldn’t be an every-down back.
That being said, the absolute frustrating thing about Kelley is his vision. This is likely a testament to being on an awful Bruins offense, but Kelley constantly tried to be a powerback and ditched any elusiveness he possesses. In other words, for a RB that has the capability of finding alternate routes, he often tried to run through defenses. There are times where that is beneficial, but that is a bad habit to carry into the NFL. This is why the Senior Bowl results are having many scouts rethink their initial thoughts.
Expected Draft Round:
Kelley is a project player, without a doubt. However, he could be a player worth investing in especially as a Day 3 pick. If you were to ask at the beginning of the year where he would be drafted, most experts would probably say seventh round to even undrafted. After the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, I think it’s safe to say he will likely be selected in fifth or sixth round.
Now, should the Rams draft Kelley? That’s difficult to answer. True, the Rams could use more help at the running back position, however, does Kelley really fulfill that need? Not right away. It depends on if Sean McVay is absolutely certain that Darrell Henderson or Malcolm Brown are capable of starting. If they are looking for a running back to challenge Henderson or Brown, they should probably look elsewhere because they have a similar player in John Kelly. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to throw a late round draft pick at Kelley.