After any disappointing season it is hard to look at the positives. But that is exactly what this article intends to do. Yes, the Indianapolis Colts finished 8-8 again and missed out on the playoffs. But, somethings did go right for the boys in blue.
T.Y. Hilton became the first player since Reggie Wayne (2007) to lead the league in receiving. Andrew Luck set career highs in QBR, yards per completion and completion percentage. And Frank Gore become the first running back in almost 30 years to rush for over 1,000 yards at the age of 32 or over. Yet non of them were as valuable as this offensive starter.
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Winners and Losers:: Who came out on top to open up 2017?
Ryan Kelly. The rookie.
He may not be the player you put on the face of your franchise or build around by any means. But the former Alabama stud was the leader of this offensive line this season. The same offensive line that only surrendered seven sacks over the final six weeks of the season.
Oh, and did I mention that Kelly did not give up a single sack all season? Yeah, in 626 passing snaps this season Kelly did not allow Luck to go down a single time. That is some Jeff Saturday type shit.
As a rookie you are expected to struggle a bit. And while Kelly did in certain areas, he continued to improve each and every week. His 83.1 pass blocking grade ranks 12th among centers according to Pro Football Focus.
The only rookie to finish ahead of Kelly was Cody Whitehair from the Chicago Bears. And while many will praise Cody, Kelly has room to grow. And his ceiling looks similiar to that of Saturday. Something Colts fans dreamed of when Grigson and Pagano made him their first round pick last April.
Kelly might not be a sexy MVP pick, but he was the right choice. He helped Luck, Gore and Hilton all reach new milestones while being apart of 12 different offensive line combinations.
We should expect Kelly to take the next step forward in 2017 and make his first Pro Bowl roster.