John Kelly NFL Draft 2018: Scouting Report for Los Angeles Rams' Pick

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 28, 2018

Tennessee running back John Kelly (4) runs for yardage as he's defended by Southern Mississippi linebacker Jeremy Sangster (26) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Wade Payne/Associated Press


—Kelly is a stout, tough, physical runner who can tear up a defense with his punishing style but also as a talented receiver out of the backfield.

—He rarely goes down on first contact and looks for ways to hurt would-be tacklers with either a stiff arm, a lowered shoulder or a thigh to the body.

—Kelly is tailor made for inside zone schemes given his compact frame, power and straight-line vision between the tackles.

—As a third-down option, Kelly is a good receiver and might be a better pass-blocker. He more easily translates to the pros as an option in passing situations than he does as a pure bell-cow back.

—Playing behind Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara for so long at Tennessee means Kelly comes to the NFL with limited wear-and-tear.



—Just a one-year starter at Tennessee and has limited extended production.

—Kelly was arrested in 2017 for marijuana possession following a traffic stop. He was suspended one game.

—Is considered undersized for NFL standards and may be scheme- or role-specific for teams.

—He doesn’t flash elite speed or quickness, which could be a devastating weakness for a smaller back.

—Teams have questioned whether he can stay healthy with a small frame and such a punishing style of play. One scout called him “an offensive version of Bob Sanders."



Different teams could have wide ranges of opinions on Kelly, but we like his toughness and ability to contribute immediately on third downs. Plug him into a West Coast system that likes inside zones and he’ll see the field early.


GRADE: 6.25 (Mid-Round 3)

PRO COMPARISON: James White, New England Patriots


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.