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Ryan Kelly Makes "Easy" Decision For Colts First Pick

Intro: After months of various players going to the Colts in Mock Drafts, the choice on Thursday night was Ryan Kelly, marking the first time in franchise history a center has been the pick in Round One.


CHICAGO – Nick Saban came to the 2016 NFL Draft to be with his three green room invitees---LB-Reggie Ragland, DL-Jarran Reed and DT-A'Shawn Robinson.

When the chaos of Round One had simmered late on Thursday night, Saban was left talking about just one of his players.

Old Mr. Reliable, center Ryan Kelly, was the lone Crimson Tide player Saban watched find an NFL home on Thursday.

"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 of his 40-game starter at center.

In drafting Kelly, the Colts have put an end to the revolving door that was the center position.

A handful of different players snapped the ball to Andrew Luck over the last four years.

Kelly's hands will be on the pigskin this year, and for the foreseeable future.

"Obviously anybody with any aptitude would want stability and talent to protect our franchise quarterback," Ryan Grigson said after making Kelly the first center the Colts have taken before Round Four, since moving to Indianapolis in 1984.

"He's going to be there, he's going to be out there at practice and that goes a long way in the NFL and for us. It's guys you can count on. It's not like he's just some overachiever in there. This is a talented football player that's bigger than your average center."

Chuck Pagano said on Thursday that Kelly "checked off all the boxes," a phrase the team's brass used for Henry Anderson after picking him in the third round of last year's draft.

At times it might be hard to quantify what a center means to an offense, but Kelly defies normal center perception.

In a 2014 road game at Ole Miss, a knee injury forced Kelly out of the game in the second quarter.

The Crimson Tide led 14-3. They would score three points the rest of the way, losing their lone game of the season.

Individually, Kelly helped block for 10 100-yard rushers this past season. Per Alabama, Kelly missed just eight assignments in 1,102 snaps, not giving up a sack and committing one penalty.

Kelly blocked for three quarterbacks and three offensive coordinators in Tuscaloosa, with the winning hardly wavering.

Now, the Colts want him to padlock a spot that's been loose beneath No. 12.

"We've had some musical chairs (at center) and you want to get a good one if you're going to take a center in (Round One)," Grigson says.

"We thought that this guy was that guy."

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