Tennessee’s John Kelly didn’t blow away anyone at the NFL combine, but the 5-foot-10, 216-pound running back from Detroit didn’t look too bad, either.
An NFL scout told SEC Country in January that Kelly’s best attributes have already been seen on film.
“John has shown good feet, body control and balance, and he bounces off tacklers,” he said. “He’s NFL-ready in terms of his football strength, and he’d start for a team like the Detroit Lions.
“No one expects he will be a workout wonder.”
Still there are some who will have their questions. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock pointed to Kelly’s late season fade, albeit, acknowledging the Tennessee program had its share of ongoing issues at the time.
Kelly, 1-of-3 Tennessee upperclassmen who elected to turn pro early, did what he could to answer those questions during his workout on Friday.
Kelly did 15 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press in Indianapolis. He also did a 35-inch vertical jump, 10-foot broad jump, 3-cone drill time of 7.13 and a 4.51-second 20-yard shuttle.
Comparatively, those numbers were in the middle of the backs at this year’s combine.
Kelly did not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. That gives him more time before running at the Vols’ pro day on March 19 in the Neyland-Thompson sports complex.
By comparison, former Tennessee tailback and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara came in at 5-9¾ and 214 pounds at last year’s combine. Kamara, like Kelly, did 15 reps on the bench press, and he was more explosive in the jumps with a 39½-inch vertical and a 131-inch broad jump.
Kelly, however, was faster than Kamara in the 3-cone shuttle: 4.51 to Kamara’s 4.56 time.
Kamara improved that shuttle time to 4.25 at the Vols’ pro day last year
Kelly also looked good catching the football, but his running skills are what turns heads most, according to the scout.
“He’s like a smaller version of (Chicago Bears 6-1, 225) Jordan Howard,” he said. “He doesn’t give you a lot to hit, and he has those churning legs and knee drive.”
“I just like to embarrass people,”Kelly said. “I don’t think I’d be running to contact, but I think sometimes you’ll find me … I just try to make the first guy miss every time. I just always try to keep my legs turning. That’s something I always do.”
NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Kelly to Philadelphia tailback Corey Clement, 5-10, 220-pounds who averaged 4.3 yards per carry and platooned in the Eagles’ backfield last season.
Kelly led Tennessee with 189 carries for 778 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns, and he tied for the team lead with 37 receptions that were good for 299 yards.
Trevor Daniel combine work
Tennessee punter Trevor Daniel also worked out at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, turning in one of the more athletic performances by a player at his position.
Daniel ran a 4.98-second 40-yard dash, did 23 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, had a 32.5-inch vertical and a 119-inch broad jump.
Daniel ranked second in the nation with a 47.5-yard purning average and he led the SEC with punts inside the 20-yard line (22).
Vols’ defensive back Rashaan Gaulden and defensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie are also at the NFL combine but have yet to work out.
Defensive linemen and linebackers are scheduled to workout at the combine on Sunday with defensive backs working out on Monday.