The Tennessee Titans will add a complementary running back to the fold for the 2018 season. UT alum John Kelly could be available outside of the first few rounds. If he is, the Titans have to pounce.
The likelihood of the Tennessee Titans adding RBs Sony Michel or Ronald Jones II is slim to none. Michel could be gone before the 25th pick. If he is there at 25, there is a chance Tennessee could still pass and elect to address other needs.
The Titans would likely address defense. If Jones slides into the second round, he surely will be claimed before the Titans are on the clock.
The quality of running backs in this draft is solid. Yes, the elite backs will go in the top two rounds, but serviceable complementary backs will hang around into rounds three and four.
The Titans could find the perfect complement for their running game within their own state.
Enter John Kelly
In 2017, Tennessee Volunteers alum RB Alvin Kamara proved you don’t have to have monstrous collegiate numbers to be an NFL star. A lot of times, you need to be drafted into the right system. Kamara’s Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign–while splitting time with RB Mark Ingram–proved deadly weapons can be deadly when given the opportunity.
The same can be said for Kamara’s former college teammate, future draftee John Kelly.
Kelly is loved by the state of Tennessee. At times, he was the lone bright spot in a Volunteers offense that misused his talents. Kelly has a chance to be highly productive at the next level despite not having elite numbers in college.
At 5-9, 212 pounds, Kelly plays outside of his build. He plays with a level of violence and tenacity that pops on tape. His box statistics reflect 327 carries for 1573 yards in three seasons, adding 15 rushing touchdowns, nine of which came last year.
Kelly can be dynamic as a backfield weapon beyond just running the ball. He has a great pair of hands and can turn on the boosters when in the open field.
In a bad Vols offense, Kelly habitually put the team on his back. He excels in setting up blocks, is a punishing runner and has one of the most lethal stiff arms that would fit right in with RB Derrick Henry and QB Marcus Mariota.
In fact, Kelly has an arsenal of maneuvers in his tool box. He possesses an elite spin move, his jump cuts are great and his vision helps him find creases to create big plays.
Kelly is a high-risk, high-reward player. Some off the field issues will cause him to be selected later than his talent warrants. However, the team that does pull the trigger will not regret the pick.
Kelly never carried the full workload in college, even though he was capable of doing so. He would be a great pairing with Henry and wouldn’t need a boatload of carries to do damage.
OC Matt LaFleur could effectively use both Henry and Kelly in the screen game, with both having the capability to run with a punishing, violent style that will wear down the will of defensive backs trying to make the tackles.
Kelly will be a steal in the draft due to him sliding down the board. Put him in a Titans offense that is evolving into a more Mariota-friendly style and Kelly fits the bill.
If Kelly remains on the board when the Titans are on the clock in the third round, GM Jon Robinson could regret passing on the local product. If Kelly is there in the fourth round, the Titans would be foolish to pass on him.