Rookie Spotlight: Joshua Kelley, UCLA
Height: 5’ 10 5/8” (official)
Weight: 212 lbs (official)
Hands: 9 5/8”
Arm: 31 5/8”
40 yard dash: 4.49 (official)
NFL Comparison: Damien Harris, Felix Jones, Kareem Hunt
– aggressive downhill runner
– good vision and instincts
– balance after/through contact
– soft hands as a receiver
– quick first step
– RosterWatch 2020 All-Senior Bowl team
– impeccable character
– lacks explosion
– absorbs a lot of contact
– passive blocker
– evidence of trouble creating on his own
Scouting Notes: Kelley runs with vigor and strength, but that’s something that most scouts were already aware of going into the NFL Combine. What people weren’t expecting was for Kelley to run a 4.49 forty. He doesn’t look that fast on tape, and maybe that’s because he’s such a smooth runner. He also gets caught from behind a lot for someone with speed, so maybe he gasses out a little quickly – perhaps because he runs with such a high motor throughout the course of the game. Kelley has a quick first step and patience to wait on his blocks. It doesn’t take long for him to decide where he’s headed though, and he pushes forward with intent. Kelley isn’t easy to take down, but I think he seeks contact too often when he can try to evade his defenders.
In a conversation with our friend Matt Gajewski, he pointed out that Kelley in 2019 forced 44 missed tackles (46th in the country) and had only 9 carries of 15+ yards. He did, however, have 641 yards after contact, but that was still only good for 53rd in the country. This could lead to speculation regarding a lack of ability to create on his own, but we witnessed excellent contact-balance through the line of scrimmage from Kelley during inside-run drills at the combine and contact-balance is one of the key attributes in the ability to create outside the structure of the scheme.
As bullish as Kelley is in the run game, he can be passive as a blocker at times, letting contact come to him rather than seeking his blocks. As a pass catcher, Kelley has soft, capable hands, but he’s not a sharp route runner, and he only caught 11 passes in 2019. On the whole, Kelley is skilled at pushing the ball forward, and breaking off chunks when he sees the opportunity.
Fantasy Outlook: Kelley is a hard working, extremely strong character guy who ran for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in a scheme that didn’t really suit him. He has workhorse capabilities, but he’s not the best athlete with the ball in his hands – though he did have a decent showing at the Senior Bowl, and his forty time certainly helps his cause. At the next level, he could either be buoyed by his effort and intangible football instincts, or he could get swallowed up in a sea of comparable backs who might be a little more evasive and shifty. His landing spot will go a long way in determining whether or not he becomes an asset in fantasy his rookie season. His hard running and style between the tackles would make him a viable TD threat on a weekly basis if he becomes a starter. He’s worth a flier in the 3rd round of traditional 12 team dynasty rookie drafts pre-NFL draft with room for movement either way depending on landing spot.
Saw action in 11 games, all starts … Became the eighth running back in UCLA history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons … His total of 1,060 yards rushing ranks 20th on the UCLA single-season list … Had four 100-yard games on the season (127-Arizona, 176-Stanford, 164-Arizona State, 126-Colorado) … The Bruins put together a streak of five straight 200-yard rushing games for the first time since 1978 … Made his first career scoring reception at Washington State … Scored a career-best four rushing touchdowns against Arizona State … The 24 points scored vs. the Sun Devils tied for the most points scored in a game by a conference player during the year … Finished the regular season ranked second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards/game … Completed his Bruin career ranked 14th on the all-time school rushing list (2,303) … His 13 touchdowns on the season and his career total of 25 touchdowns both rate 11th on the school lists … Finished second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards/game (96.4) and seventh in all-purpose yards/game (102.8) … First-team all-conference pick by Associated Press … Second-team all-conference selection by PFF … Second-team All-Pac-12 conference selection by the league coaches … Semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s top walk-on or former walk-on player … Presented the Henry R. Red Sanders Award for Most Valuable Player at the team banquet.
Full Name: Joshua Tyler Kelley … Born in Inglewood, Calif. … Parent: Jacqueline Kelley … His list of favorite NFL players includes Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham, Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Newton, Tom Brady …. Hobbies include watching Anime, reading and story telling … Loves to dance … Related to UCLA baseball player Derek Vaughn … Earned a spot on the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll in Fall 2018, Winter 2018 and Spring 2018.