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.