Colts Hoping For Saturday-To-Manning Partnership In Ryan Kelly And Andrew Luck

Intro: The Colts have been fortunate to have arguably had the greatest quarterback/center duo in NFL history. They hope to have another in Ryan Kelly and Andrew Luck.

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CHICAGO – The tone of their initial meeting at this year's NFL Combine was concise, yet serious.

"What can you do for our team?"

That's what the Colts were asking Ryan Kelly, a three-year starter for college football's dominant program.

How much did the Colts like Kelly's answer?

Kelly's next time speaking to them was on the other end of a joyous phone conversation, informing the nation's best center he was now a Colt.

Jeff Saturday blocked for Peyton Manning in 170 games, an NFL-record.

The Colts hope Ryan Kelly can be that sort of presence for Andrew Luck.

"Lord willing and the creek don't rise, the same thing can happen," Chuck Pagano said on Thursday night of the Kelly/Luck duo.

"That chemistry, that continuity, you can't replicate that any other way. You certainly can't replicate it by going down the road that we've been down for the last four seasons (five different centers for Andrew Luck). That's not fair to the football team."

Centers going in Round One are a rarity in the NFL.

Which is a similar way to describe the traits Kelly's brings to the middle of an offensive line.

The Colts were enamored with Kelly's size (6-4 and 311 pounds, "almost tackle-ish," said Ryan Grigson), film (Kelly allowed no sacks and committed just one penalty in 1,012 snaps last season) and intelligence(the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year made all the line checks for Alabama).

"(Kelly) was our targeted player… for a long time now," Grigson said on Thursday night after taking the Cincinnati native in Round One.

"(Pagano and I) went to his pro day together. (Alabama) had a lot of players there, but (Kelly) was who we went to see."

Alabama head coach Nick Saban was in the ear of Grigson and Pagano back at that Pro Day, the only such workout the Colts GM and head coach attended together this spring.

The Colts had seen and heard enough on that March day to confirm Kelly's next stop would be in Indianapolis.

"I can't think of anyone you would want to represent your organization, your community or your team, that has better character than Ryan Kelly," Saban said on Thursday night, at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago.

"I know what a great job Ryan Kelly did for our team, for our quarterback and making all the calls on the offensive line and having the kind of competitive character every coach dreams of.

"I'm sure the (Colts') entire offense will appreciate him, and Andrew (Luck) will as well."

Colts first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft - Ryan Kelly.

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