Jason Kelce on the Rise

Posted: August 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: | 50 Comments »
Jason prepares to vanquish evil from the Earth.

Jason Kelce stares down a wretched hive of scum and villiany, aka the defensive line.


The Eagles spent a 6th round pick back in April on C Jason Kelce.  Anyone who watched the guy play for the University of Cincinnati was impressed with him.  The question was size.  He measured in at 6’3, 282.  His agent told anyone or anything that would listen that Kelce had been up in the 290s before getting sick.  I doubt it.  Look at his body.  He stands out from every other O-lineman.  He’s flat out skinny.

Kelce’s lack of size didn’t bother Howard Mudd.  He saw a talented, athletic player that would fit perfectly into the Eagles new blocking scheme.  Mudd wanted Kelce.  The Eagles grabbed him and so far the pick looks pretty darn smart.  Kelce is getting a lot of reps with the starting offense.  He’s seriously pushing for the starting Center position.

I don’t know that Kelce will win the competition.  Playing a rookie Center in a shortened offseason might be pushing your luck just a bit.  We’ll see where Kelce is when we watch him in a couple of preseason games.  Shining in practice is one thing.  Doing it in a game is a whole other challenge.  That’s true even for preseason games.

I do think the Eagles have an ulterior motive in playing him so much with the starters.  They need Kelce ready in case anything happens to Jamaal Jackson.  He hurt his knee to end the 2009 season.  He tore his tricep last year after playing just half a game.  You cannot put all your eggs in his basket (especially if they’re scrambled and in the middle of a delicious biscuit).  Giving Kelce so many reps with the starters is a way to get him acclimated in case Jackson gets hurt and Kelce must step in.

What happened to Mike McGlynn?  He was a capable starter in the middle last year, but isn’t an ideal fit for Mudd’s system.  Jackson isn’t either, but he’s such a good Center the Eagles are willing to play him this year.  Clearly Kelce is the Center of the future…if not the present.

Kelce has impressed me with what I’ve seen of him.  He moves laterally better than any other lineman we’ve got.  Kelce slides left and right so smoothly that you can’t help but be impressed.  The next time you see practice clips of him just watch his feet.  Really, really impressive.  He is small, but Kelce plays with great leverage.  He sinks his butt and gets under defenders.  They can move him back a step, but he’s able to re-set his feet and hold his ground most of the time.  Kelce uses his hands well.  He’s tenacious.  You will never see a lack of effort from him.

I think the Eagles are fascinated by his potential on screens.  Kelce runs like a big TE.  He is a great blocker out in space.  On draft day the pick was announced and Mike Mayock’s question was whether the Eagles took him as a Center or Fullback.  That should give you an idea that this isn’t a typical O-lineman.  He could be a great lead blocker for Shady McCoy on screen passes.  Kelce has the speed to get out in front of him and clear the way.  This won’t be Jackson or Max Jean-Gilles lumbering behind the RB and watching the play.  Kelce could also be good on screens to the TE or even WRs.

Mudd had a talented, undersized Center with the Colts.  Jeff Saturday came out of UNC at 6’3, 290. He wasn’t nearly as athletic as Kelce, but was a terrific college player.  He bounced around a bit before Mudd got hold of him.  He started twice in 1999 and then has only missed 6 starts since the beginning of the 2000 season.  Saturday has been a stalwart for the Colts.  Mudd surely sees similarities in Saturday and Kelce.  Jason helped him out by growing an awesome beard.  He now plays like and looks like Jeff Saturday.  Smart.  Confuse the old man and make him think Jeff Saturday is here in Philly.

The concerns with Kelce are obvious.  If you start him this year, is he smart enough?  Does he know the playbook inside-out?  Will he read blitzes and stunts properly and make the necessary adjustments?  The other concern goes back to his size.  Is Kelce functionally strong enough to block massive NTs?  Can he handle Haloti Ngata or Vince Wilfork?  Having a light, athletic Center is great only if he can deal with the biggies.  We’ll face some big guys in the preseason and Kelce will get a chance to show if he’s ready for them or not.  I can’t wait to find out.

50 Comments on “Jason Kelce on the Rise”

  1. 1 Eric said at 9:58 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    “Playing a rookie Center in a shortened offseason might be pushing your luck just a bit.”

    The same can be said for a rookie MLB.

  2. 2 JakFTW said at 10:18 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    With so many good offensive and defensive skill position players that we will want to keep on the roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if we carry nine offensive linemen, like last year. The question is – who are the nine?

  3. 3 RogerPodacter said at 10:27 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    i think you are right, tommy. they are trying to give him as many reps as possible now. i’m sure that JJ would be able to get SOME reps, but kelce has looked pretty good (from what i’ve read) so why take the reps away from him? as long as he is learning real quick and still performing, keep giving him reps.
    putting JJ into the starting lineup now may rush him out of rehabbing from his injury. i’m sure he doesnt NEED the practice the way he NEEDS to rehab back to 100%.

    i’m more concerned that McGlynn isnt getting any reps at C. he wasnt *great* last year, but most of the OL wasnt either. maybe they are trying to keep him focused on the backup G position instead?

  4. 4 dan in Philly said at 10:31 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    I’m hoping Mudd will be able to re-produce Jeff Saturday here…

  5. 5 ATLEagle said at 10:37 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    I read an interview where Kelce was getting the nickname of hedgehog. Tommy, I fully expect you to run with the Ron Jeremy references …

  6. 6 Vince said at 10:59 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    Great article Tommy, but can you (or anyone else)explain to me how a guy like Kelce can match up and block a 360lb nose tackle? I’m honestly asking as I don’t know much about OL blocking. It just seems to me that leverage and athleticism can only get you so far when you’re blocking an athletic DT with 70lbs on you.

  7. 7 Baloophi said at 11:05 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    @ wretched hive

    I heard on screens that Kelce leads the line in single file to hide their numbers.

  8. 8 texasbart said at 11:17 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    Mudd is having the QB make the line adjustments. The center makes the first call, but the QB makes any changes based on reading a blitz, etc. Not only does this ensure that the QB knows where his protections will be (a problem for Vick last year???) but it also makes it easier to start a rookie center.

  9. 9 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:23 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    @ texasbart…

    Good stuff. Hadn’t read that. Thanks for sharing. That does make a definite difference.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:28 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    RE: rookie C vs MLB

    Big difference in my mind. If the C makes a mistake, someone goes in and kills the QB. If the MLB makes a mistake, he’s still got Safeties behind him to help clean up the mess.

    Also defense is simpler. All 11 players have assignments, but on many plays you are reacting to the play and chasing the ball. That’s natural, instinctive.

    Offense is complicated. The OL blocks. WRs go out on routes. TE/backs might stay or go out. The OL/TE/FB/RB must read blitzes similarly and react the same way. Lots of interaction. Lots of communication. Stability is critical.

    Think about how weird offense is. You’re protecting players (QB, skill guys) and also trying to score points.

    Defense just attacks the ball.

  11. 11 The Linc – DeSean Is Different Than TO : My Blog said at 11:50 AM on August 9th, 2011:

    […] Iggles Blitz ” Blog Archive ” Jason Kelce on the RiseJason Kelce has gone from late round pick to potential starter. How? Why? […]

  12. 12 Flyin' Brian said at 12:13 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    I heard Kelce was was working on long snaps at training camp. Is it possible he could take that job also to free up a roster spot?

  13. 13 Tommy Lawlor said at 12:15 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    RE: LS

    Jon Dorenbos is one of the best in the NFL at snapping. Don’t mess with that. Crucial job. We do need a good backup. Darren Howard and Brent Celek were the guys. Celek is still here, but someone else needs to be in the mix in case of disaster. Maybe Kelce is that guy.

  14. 14 Tommy Lawlor said at 12:17 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    RE: Kelce the hedgehog?

    Are you trying to get me in trouble? I’m dangerous enough on my own. Porn references would be the death of me. My self control is an issue now with strange references and my bizarre sense of humor.

    I’m trying to figure out some way to tie in Kelce to Kelsey Grammer, aka Frasier Crane. That’s less fun, but a lot safer.

  15. 15 Tommy Lawlor said at 12:22 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    @ Vince…

    Lots of factors are involved in smaller guys blocking bigger ones. First key thing is to remember what’s happening. The average football play only lasts a matter of seconds. That gives the small guy a much better chance. If he had to block the big guy for 30 seconds or something like that, forget it.

    Also, the small guy knows what he’s doing before the snap. That allows him to move into proper position. It helps him to win the leverage battle as well. If the small guy had to react to the big one, he’d be in trouble.

    The small guy gets help from the blocker to the left or right of him. Double teams are crucial.

    The big guy wears down as the game goes along. The small guy doesn’t. That makes a difference.

    Where the small guy gets into serious trouble is when he faces someone like Haloti Ngata that is massive, but also quick, agile, and athletic. That’s when you almost must double team the defender.

  16. 16 LT said at 12:42 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Great writeup Tommy. Hilarious line about him growing the beard to confuse Howard Mudd.

    I’m very excited to see Kelce play. Clearly he will be the starter before too long.

    Of course he will struggle with Haloti, my favorite non-Eagle in the entire NFL, but who doesn’t? The man is an animal. Losing out on Ngata and getting Bunkley as the consolation prize remains the saddest Eagle draft story of the last decade.

  17. 17 Max said at 12:50 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Tommy..read somewhere that we signed Chris Wilson (former DE of Redskins)…just a camp body?

  18. 18 Eric said at 12:57 PM on August 9th, 2011:


    I was sort of tongue-in-cheek about MLB. haha

  19. 19 Flyin' said at 1:02 PM on August 9th, 2011:


    Thanks for answering my question before I could post it!


    New Fan-D article is excellent!

  20. 20 Austinfan said at 1:15 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Tommy, Kelce can indeed be 290+ lbs (he claimed this spring to be up to 297-302, but I think that’s a bit optimistic).

    Remember, you’re looking at the rest of the line, Peters, Herremans, Howard, Watkins, etc. And subconsciously, Tra, MJG, Cole over the years. So the standard of “normal” for an Eagle lineman is somewhere south of your average sumo wrestler.

    In this environment, 295 lbs is going to look like a big TE.

    Speaking of big TEs, when they signed Martell Webb, 6’3 276 lbs, my first thought was put 20 lbs on him and he’s a perfect Mudd interior OL.

  21. 21 Jeppe said at 1:29 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Lesean McCoy just tweeted: Worst NEWS EVER!!!!so disappointed n myself

    Does anyone know what he’s talking about??? Hopefully not a serious injury!!!!

  22. 22 Sharif said at 1:38 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Just googled Ron Jeremy. Seriously, WTF is wrong with you people?

  23. 23 justrelax said at 1:51 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Am having unpleasant flashbacks to the Super Bowl, where Richard Seymour spent the whole game driving Hank Fraley into Donovan’s lap, and Seymour was a lot less than 360. You’re expecting this guy to block Raji? Color me skeptical.

  24. 24 CVD said at 1:57 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Lesean McCoy just tweeted: Worst NEWS EVER!!!!so disappointed n myself

    Does anyone know what he’s talking about??? Hopefully not a serious injury!!!!

    i havent seen anything online. anyone hear anything?

  25. 25 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:03 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    @ CVD…

    He also followed that Tweet with something about chilling with his family. Hard to say what’s going on. I’m checking around, but not hearing anything, good or bad.

    Reuben Frank just said on Twitter that he’s heard there “is nothing to worry about”.

  26. 26 Eric said at 2:03 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Tested positive for HGH?

  27. 27 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:05 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    @ justrelax…

    That was a nightmare to be sure. I also remember Strahan tossing around 340-lb Jon Runyan like a rag doll quite a few times.

    I am skeptical of Kelce as well. I didn’t rate him very highly or watch a ton of tape on him because I had serious questions about his size. I don’t know that I wrote more than 2 sentences about him between January and the draft.

    I do know that if there is a coach and a system that can make this work, Mudd is the guy and we’re the team.

    Really interested to see how Kelce plays in a game. I hope we get to see him vs Ngata. That’s exactly what we need.

  28. 28 DB said at 2:23 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    “I hope we get to see him vs Ngata”

    Hopefully the NFL will allow Vick to wear his red practice jersey in the game.

  29. 29 CVD said at 2:27 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    thanks tommy

    that would be hurt big time if something happened to shady. i think this could be a huge year for him. we all know how good he is but i think this is the year where the nfl finds out how good he is.

  30. 30 Iowa Eagle said at 2:43 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Tommy’s draft write up on Kelce:

    Undersized, but very athletic player. 3-year starter. First couple of years were at LG. Moved to C as a Senior. Did a good job with shotgun snaps. Usually crisp, accurate. Lean, athletic build. Has good feet. Natural pass blocker. Sinks his hips and widens his feet so he can anchor. Lacks ideal bulk, so technique is crucial for him. Outstanding blocker in space. Very good on screens. Athletic enough to get upfield and will then go and get big hits on defenders. Active blocker. Always finds someone to hit. Works hard to sustain blockers. Defender might get by him initially, but Kelce will keep his hands on the guy and move his feet so as not to let the defender go free in the backfield. Lacks ideal bulk/strength. Isn’t going to get as much push on run plays as you want. What he will do is stick with a block and wear defenders down. Puts guys on the ground when he gets a chance. Plays with a lot of attitude.

    Does he have the functional size and strength to start in the NFL? If not, could be a TE, FB, or H-back. Good player. Would be mid-round target if he were bigger.

  31. 31 GermanEagle said at 3:08 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    I love you.

  32. 32 ATLEagle said at 3:23 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    @sharif , I’m not the one who titled this post “on the rise” .

  33. 33 Doublgee said at 4:06 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Wow….never been this excited about a center! Awesome!

  34. 34 Iowa Eagle said at 4:28 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Just for fun, I thought I’d post Tommy’s write up on Danny Watkins as well:

    Probably the most interesting prospect in the whole draft. 26 years old. Has a limited football background. Spent time as a firefighter in Canada and played hockey. Played at Baylor for 2 years after coming over from Junior College. Spent both years as the starting LT. Did a solid job there, but projects inside in the NFL. Doesn’t have the athletic ability or footwork for playing OT. Looks like a natural fit at G. Watkins is a tenacious blocker. He goes to the whistle. Or the echo of the whistle. Anchors well. Able to re-set when he is initially driven back. Sinks his hips and plays with good leverage. Feet are fine for playing in a tight space (like G or C). Also has a mentality that fits well at G. Sort of a bully. Likes to find a defender and really mash on him. Uses his hands pretty well. Still raw, but seems very coachable.

    Notes from the Senior Bowl: WATKINS — LG. Had a great block of Ballard on early inside run. Doubled him at first, but then stuck with the block by himself until the whistle blew. Drove Ballard away from the scrum. Paved way for Ponder to get couple of yards on QB sneak on opening drive. Got a holding call when he was beaten to the inside by McClain. Moved to RG on next drive. Had a real good block of McClain in pass pro. Gave ground initially, but then re-set. Used his hands to keep McClain off his body. Had a good block of DT on draw play to give RB a clear running lane. The guy tried to go low and Danny put him on the ground and pushed him inside. Has excellent lateral agility. Works hard to mirror DTs when they try going hard inside or outside on him. Good block of Williams on pass play. Stuck with him until the QB scrambled. Good combo block on run to his side. Helped OT turn the DT, then got on the LB. Terrific block on GL run. Fired off the ball and got to Homan quickly. Gets off the ball well, but erratic on the 2nd level. Jordan split attempted double team by Watkins and RT and got RB on a play to his side. Good block on 4th Qtr run to his side. Got on the DT initially, then got on Homan and gave the runner space to get almost 5 yds.

    Older than teams prefer, but a real good player and the kind of guy that teams love. Should go in the early 2nd round.

  35. 35 Kyle said at 4:46 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    One factor against Kelce is that he is a rookie and taking the C position and make line call may be too much for him to handle. He may be a fast learner, which we shall find out in the next couple of preseason games. JJ is an insurance policy here and he can start the season and/or fill in pending on how Kelce does in the regular season. JJ can help to show the rookie the ropes and bring him along. The C position should be fine for this season.

    McGlynn is slotted as back-up G and perhaps 3rd C. He can also be moved if the right deal is on the table. We have a surplus of Gs and can move him without hurting the depth.

  36. 36 Name said at 5:59 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Last year the Eagles kept 9 OL.

    5 starters
    4 backups:
    2 OG- Nick Cole and Reggie Wells
    2 OT- Austin Howard and King Dunlap

    If Kelce out performs McGlynn than I think its safe to say that McGlynn will get cut. It’s a shame, I liked McGlynn. He was nasty and somewhat consistent.

    Does anyone think that we might go into this season with 3 safetys? Can Colt Anderson be put on the PS?

  37. 37 Dan said at 6:07 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Any word about Havili in TC? How good of blocker is he? Do you think that the Eagles would bring Kelce as a FB on blocking situations? Similar to what they did with Nick Cole.

  38. 38 iskar36 said at 6:23 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    One thing I find incredible is the fact that we are considered one of the top three teams in the league, yet we have so many positions with either a rookie or a second year player starting or at least providing a legitimate challenge for the job.

    Kelce – Center
    Watkins – RG
    Mathews – MLB
    Jarrett – FS
    Henerey – K
    Henry – P

    2nd year players:
    Chaney – WIL
    Allen – SS
    Coleman – FS

    That’s 8 (Coleman and Jarret battling for the same position) out of 25 (11 on O/D plus K/P/LS) positions. On top of that, Brandon Graham isn’t on this list. While this all could end up being a reason for concern, it also could lead to a lot of wins both this year and in the future.

  39. 39 CVD said at 6:51 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    one thing mcglynn has going for him is he plays two positions. it wont be easy to cut him since he can play G or C.

    iskar, i agree. we are still such a young team. thats why i dont get the comparisons to washington. even DRC, foukou, maclin, desean, mccoy are all still on their rookie contracts.

  40. 40 Stan said at 6:58 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Does anyone also find it weird that a lot of these young players have been losing their starting jobs pretty quickly?:

    Macho Harris
    Quintin Demps
    Akeem Jordan
    Omar Gaither
    Brandon Graham

    A lot of them also get cut after their first year

    Bryan Smith
    Quintin Demps
    Macho Harris
    Jack Ikegwuonu
    Tony Hunt
    Possibly: Trevard Lindley
    Possibly: Dan Neisham

    I think the youth and their draft ability is overrated.

    In the 4 drafts prior to 2011, only 3 players are have shown the ability to be stars- Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson.

    We can only HOPE that Matthews, Chaney, Fokou, Graham, Allen, Coleman, Jarrett, and Watkins can be decent starters. But with all due respect we have felt the same way about Tony Hunt, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Quintin Demps, and Macho Harris.

    I think that our young players get over hyped.

    Dallas has 5 decent young players- Anthony Spencer, Mike Jenkins, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, and Felix Jones.

    NYG has 5: Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, JPP, Prince Akumura.

    Why do the Eagles get so much praise?

  41. 41 Cliff said at 7:35 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    @ Stan

    I think you’re doing exactly what you said Eagles fans do about the Eagles’ young players: you’re hyping Giants’ and Cowboys’ draft picks while discounting some solid picks of our own.

    You list only 3 Eagles picks that “have shown the ability to be stars” – DeSean, LeSean, and Maclin. What about Brent Celek, Nate Allen, and Jason Avant?All SOLID starters. Look back further and you find draft picks like Trent Cole,Todd Herremans and Mike Patterson who have been SOLID players.

    For the Giants, you list JPP and Prince Akumura – both players have done NOTHING in the NFL that merits praise greater than even Nate Allen. Brandon Graham almost equals JPP’s stats and he was injured most of the year. You’re “over hyping” them.

    For the Cowboys, you list Sean Lee and Mike Jenkins. Has Lee done ANYTHING that makes him clearly worthy of more hype than Moise Fokou or even Jamar Chaney. Jenkins looks like a solid player, but what explains the drop-off from 2009 to 2010?

    I’m not trying to blindly defend the Eagles here, but you’re killing your own argument.

  42. 42 CVD said at 7:37 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    the cowboys have been so bad at drafting over the last few years.

    i noticed you say the eagles only have 3 guys that can be STARS but dallas only has to have decent players. what are dallas’s stars?

    and for the eagles u say BG lost his job but Steve Smith is ok? Steve Smith cant get a job right now.

    and why is amukamara on there but not our first round pick.

    sean lee is on there but not anyone we picked up last year?

    and anthony spencer?

    bryan smith and Jack Ikegwuonu were to of the worst picks the eagles have ever made

    im just not following ur logic. but i do agree with ur first point, but u lose me on the rest

  43. 43 CVD said at 7:48 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    lee had that one game with 3 picks and some people act as if he is a star. i think he is pretty good and actually wanted the eagles to pick him but doesnt mean he is a stud yet

    also this spencer thing is crazy. i would do that trade again with dallas. we got kolb and bradley (i think), so we really got DRC, a 2nd round pick in 2011, a few wins from kolb and Bradley showed lots of potential b4 being hurt. spencer had like 4 sacks at the end of a season and philly talk radio annointed him the man and said they couldnt belive the eagles gave him to dallas. also someone said we got celek in the trade but not sure if thats right, either way we won that one so far

  44. 44 CVD said at 7:50 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    tommy posted a new artcile fandemonium


  45. 45 Kevin (RC) said at 8:19 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    In the Super Bowl, Wilfork killed Fraley while Seymour demolished Hicks/Thomas. Those two were the keys to the Pats last 2 Super Bowls.

    Frankly, I think the Patriots have another ring if they keep Seymour instead of getting a #1 for him.

  46. 46 ian no. 2 said at 8:54 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    hope they keep McGlynn.. he is both dependable versatile and has room for improvement. Several of the linemen are injury prone. They should keep 10 OL because of the injury possibilities and the talent. McGlynn, Mathis, and Harris could walk after this year but the other 4 starters + Justice, Kelce, and Howard are locked up for a while, Vandervelde if he makes it.. A Justice trade would be good but I’m not clear on what the cap hit is if any if they traded him.

  47. 47 mcud said at 9:18 PM on August 9th, 2011:


    As I understand it, the dead money from releasing/trading Justice would roughly equal his salary. In other words, its a wash.

  48. 48 Max said at 9:32 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Tommy – I am surprised that there is hardly any activity on Ben Leber – PFT reports he signed with the Rams – but again they say no deal has been signed…no interest from the Iggles…I thought he was a good player

  49. 49 ian no. 2 said at 9:36 PM on August 9th, 2011:

    Mcud, I thought they’d save at least 870K. I was hoping for more of course. Tempting to keep him in the event you need him, but then the savings are more in later years.


  50. 50 mcud said at 10:28 PM on August 9th, 2011:


    Yeah, I saw that. I think you’re right…for 2011. I just looked and saw 2.7 in salary, and 2.8 in dead money.