Kelly, Clark, Green Projected As Top 2016 NFL Rookies

Posted May 23, 2016

Intro: College Football 24/7 writer Chase Goodbread lists three Colts — center Ryan Kelly, tackle Le’Raven Clark and safety T.J. Green — on his list projecting the Top 100 NFL rookies of the 2016 season.

The praise for the Indianapolis Colts’ 2016 draft class keeps pouring in.

Earlier, NFL media draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote that he believed the Indianapolis Colts were the sixth-most improved organization on offense with their draft haul.

Now, one writer has broken down each pick — and their respective situations with their teams heading into the 2016 season — and believes the Colts have found at least three gems that could make an immediate impact.

Chase Goodbread,’s College Football 24/7 writer, ranks three Colts draft picks — center Ryan Kelly, tackle Le’Raven Clark and safety T.J. Green — on his list projecting the Top 100 NFL rookies of the 2016 season.

Kelly — the 18th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft — comes in at No. 26 overall. Here’s Goodbread’s analysis:

“Kelly comes in and starts right away, bringing with him three years of experience making line calls and checks in Alabama's pro-style offense.”

Clark was picked in the third round — 82nd overall — by the Colts out of Texas Tech, and ranks 73rd on Goodbread’s Top 100:

“The Colts focused heavily on the offensive line in the draft, and while Clark's technique needs work, don't be surprised if he is the starting right tackle by year's end, if not much sooner.”

Green, meanwhile, was picked 57th overall in the second round out of Clemson. He ranks No. 75 on Goodbread’s list:

“Even if Green doesn't win a starting job right away, he can figure into sub packages while he vies for a bigger role.”

Analysis: Kelly comes in as the assumed starter center for the Colts, so it’s pretty much a safe bet to say he’d be projected as a top rookie for the 2016 season.

If anything, Kelly might be ranked too low, however. Some may feel that the impact he’s expected to make on the Indianapolis offensive line — and on the team’s offense in general — will be much greater than most rookies in his class across the league.

But, as we all know, oftentimes offensive linemen must take a back seat when it comes to the limelight and attention — and most of them are just fine with that — so check back throughout the season as Kelly begins what many believe will be a highly successful professional career.

As for Clark and Green, because their immediate playing status is a little more up in the air compared to Kelly, their rankings on Goodbread’s list seem a little more justified.

Clark comes in as one of the team’s four draft picks along the offensive line, which was obviously a huge point of emphasis for general manager Ryan Grigson and his staff going into this offseason. One of this Texas Tech product’s huge selling points? The ability to play both tackle and guard — something he did for the Red Raiders.

“Played outstanding football at tackle,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of Clark. “He’s long, he’s athletic, has all the traits to be an outstanding tackle. If he has to go inside and play some guard, he’s done that in the past. It’s hard to find those guys that can play on the outside, especially, play left tackle.”

With OTAs just starting their second week — and with Clark yet to sign his rookie contract — it’s obviously yet to be seen how first-year offensive line coach Joe Philbin is working him into the rotation. But you can bet he’ll be pushing for playing time at some point sooner or later.

Green, meanwhile, adds much-needed depth in the secondary for Indianapolis. He’s a speedster — he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash — but he’s also not afraid to get his jersey dirty, as he had 130 tackles — 102 solo — for Clemson last season.

Green also has some hands, having switched from wide receiver to safety for the 2014 college football season.

He’ll bolster a secondary that already included the likes of veteran Mike Adams, second-year safety Clayton Geathers and cornerbacks Darius Butler, Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson and D’Joun Smith, and might just be a perfect candidate to make some big plays on special teams, as well.

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