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Players who have stood out in NFL preseason

Modified 01 Apr 2020, 17:29 IST
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#2 John Kelly, RB, Rams

Oakland Raiders v Los Angeles Rams

I was really high on Kelly coming into the draft, having him as my eight-highest ranked RB available, but he fell all the way to the sixth round. The former Volunteer back wasn’t really looked at because he split carries with Alvin Kamara in 2016 and his average yards per attempt dropped heavily as the number one guy last year. But when you consider that Tennessee had close to no passing attack and defenses tried to stop him first, you get a different perspective.

Looking at his tape, I was blown away by his contact balance. Of course, I loved Saquon and those other top running backs in the draft, but there was nobody in this class who could take on a defender in full sprint and simply bounce off him like Kelly. You see some of that in preseason action now. Kelly has also shown a great jump-cut, excellent vision and great effort in pass protection.

While he is a downhill runner by nature, who gains yards after contact, he has the eyes to burn defenses cheating on the edges and the wiggle to shake guys in the open field when they pursue too hard. Todd Gurley was in the backfield for more than two-thirds of snaps even though the Rams blew several teams out last season, so I don’t expect any of their backs to put up significant numbers, but I think Kelly has a good shot at landing second on the depth chart eventually.

Malcolm Brown looks like the clear-cut number two guy at this point and Justin Davis had a strong preseason a year ago himself, but I have been riding that John Kelly train ever since I watched him dismantle the Florida defense last season. In his first three weeks against NFL competition, he has amassed 215 yards from scrimmage and reached the end-zone three times.

Published 01 Sep 2018, 01:00 IST
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