Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA
(percentile rank among all RBs at Combine since 1999, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds (70th percentile)
Vertical: 31 inches (13th)
Broad: 121 inches (69th)
3-cone: 6.95 seconds (68th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds (43rd)
Kelley spent his first 2 college seasons at Cal-Davis, the only place that offered a scholarship to the 2-star recruit. Kelley posted decent numbers there -- enough to earn him a scholarship to UCLA.
After sitting out 2017 under NCAA transfer rules, Kelley spent the past 2 years as the Bruins’ lead back. He handled 50.6% of the team’s rushing attempts right away, 65.8% of the carries that went to RBs. Kelley also ranked 3rd on that team in receptions. He started 9 of 11 games after beginning the year in a committee. Kelley topped 120 rushing yards in 6 of those 9 starts.
Senior year brought just 4 more games of 100+ yards, though, with decreased efficiency. Kelley’s receiving fell off worse, as 5 other Bruins caught more balls and no one on the team with more than 1 reception averaged fewer yards per catch.
(Courtesy of WhatsOnDraftNFL)
Games watched: USC 2018, Washington State 2019, Utah 2019, Arizona 2019, Highlights 2018
If you never watched Kelley before seeing his Scouting Combine testing numbers (above), then you’d probably expect more than what he delivers on film.
The ex-Bruin is a decent runner but doesn’t do anything special.
The speed is there. Kelley can certainly scoot through an opening and get downfield.
His primary issue, though, is a lack of agility. Even though this play produces a long run, you can see Kelley rounding his cut rather hitting the opening quickly.
The slow cut didn’t hurt Kelley in that case, but it did at other times -- and it’ll certainly only matter more as the defenders get faster.
Here’s another example. Watch how many steps it takes Kelley to change direction against Arizona.
Kelley’s receiving usage stunk through almost his entire college career -- including the 2 seasons at Cal-Davis. He’s not a total stiff in that area, though.
That’s a pretty smooth catch on a high ball he had to adjust for.
Kelley also isn’t a sluggish runner. Although he doesn’t present special ability in any particular area, he’s capable of some slippery running.
Joshua Kelley isn’t bad. He’s just not special. His college stats were just OK. His Pro Football Focus ratings in elusiveness and pass blocking were weak. He saw little use as a receiver. And Kelley’s tape doesn’t stand out vs. others in his class.
In a good offense that finds him space, Kelley could be a helpful back. But he’s not likely to create value without plenty of help. His top comparable players seem to agree …
Adams jumped to relevance as a 2018 rookie when he suddenly became the Eagles’ lead back. The former undrafted free agent has just as quickly disappeared from relevance again, though.
Choice landed with the Cowboys in Round 4 back in 2008 … and never reached 100 carries in an NFL season.
Michel might seem like a hopeful comp, a 1st-round pick and lead ball carrier for the Patriots. But he has relied heavily on positive game script and TD opportunities. Michel has finished each of his 2 seasons below average level in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
Don’t expect Kelley to go before Day 3 of the NFL Draft.