Starter: Ryan Kelly
Backup: Austin Blythe
The Colts haven’t had a reliable center to captain their offensive line since the days of Jeff Saturday. Luck has had to take snaps from inconsistent, at best, and dead weight, at worst, centers since he stepped into Indianapolis. The list of centers he has played with include Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, Khaled Holmes, and Jonotthan Harrison. A.Q. Shipley, the best of the worst, barely had playing time with the Colts, but the journeyman was still mediocre when he stepped on the field, sadly for Luck. The first three names are no longer with the team, while the last name on that list tries to make a bounce-back as a guard. After four years of beat-down from poor interior play, Andrew Luck might have found his new long-term center in Ryan Kelly, a first round choice from the University of Alabama. Kelly was far and away the best center in this year’s draft and hails from a very respected football program. He was the anchor of the front line that paved the way for Heisman winner, Derrick Henry, and more importantly, a national championship. Kelly has already impressed head coach, Chuck Pagano, with his physical ability and mental capacity to soak in the offense so quickly. Although he may be a rookie, Pagano feels like Kelly is already a veteran in terms of his knowledge of the game. Kelly allowed zero sacks last year, and his new locker neighbor, Andrew Luck, sure hopes he can keep it that way for years to come.
At the bottom of the 7th round, the Colts doubled down and took a top three center in the draft, Austin Blythe. He comes from the University of Iowa, a school well-renowned for its lineman. With last year’s centers Jonotthan Harrison making a transition to guard and Khaled Holmes cut from the team, Blythe seems like a shoo-in to win the backup center position. Hopefully, Kelly is good enough and durable enough that Blythe won’t have to see the field outside of the preseason, but it’s nice to know that Luck’s backup snapper was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top center. Fortunately for the Colts, Ryan Kelly took home the award this year.
At this point, both guys figure to make the roster. However, with Blythe’s short arms, he will probably have a hard time playing anywhere but center. The Colts love offensive linemen that can play multiple positions on the front line, so this might cost him a final roster spot, but it is unlikely.