Alabama primarilly runs a zone blocking scheme mixing in pin-pull power concepts to blast open holes on the edges of the line of scrimmage. Similar teams that run this scheme (or similar schemes) in the NFL are the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. See: Bill Callahan’s Run Blocking Scheme.
Here are two examples of excellent reach blocks on the nose tackle. Pay particular close attention to the first one against Texas A&M’s outstanding defensive lineman Myles Garrett (#15).
Kelly is better drive blocking with angles rather than in a straight one-on-one blocking situation. He does not have the pure strength that a pure man-power center needs, so building power in his legs will help him at the next level.
Combination blocks are key for zone blocking schemes. Kelly excels using superior body positioning to seal defenders out of the path of the running back.
Similar to screen passes, Kelly is very willing to get to the next level and deliver a block down the field, but he tends to overrun the defender far too often. Patience is key.
While this doesn’t happen on every snap, the next play shows how quickly he accelerates and can hit a linebacker in space.
Ryan Kelly is an ideal zone blocking center that has better burst and athleticism than his combine numbers indicate. Expect him to be the first center off the board in the NFL Draft.
Pro Comparison and Draft Projection
Pro Comparison: Alex Mack. Almost identical in size, both were hardworkers in college fighting through each snap. Both were great in combination blocks and occasionally lost leverage against larger nose tackles in one-on-one drive block situations.
Projected Round: Late 1st, Probable Early 2nd.
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