Position: Running Back
Weight: 212 pounds
School: UCLA Bruins
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
Bench press: 23 reps (tied for fifth-best among running backs)
Vertical jump: 31 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 1 inch
Three-cone drill: 6.95 seconds (best among running backs)
20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds
Joshua Kelley 2020 NFL Draft Profile
The scholarship offers were few and far between for Joshua Kelley, a function of the fact he didn’t really see much production at running back until his senior year of high school. In fact, he only received a single offer from UC Davis in FCS. During his two seasons with the Aggies, Kelley accounted for a combined 1,139 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 193 carries. After this, he returned to his native southern California, transferring to UCLA and sitting out the 2017 season.
Suffice it to say that Kelley made the most of his two years of eligibility with the Bruins. He rushed for 12 touchdowns both seasons, good enough for second-best in the Pac-12 each year (that total was tied with four other players in 2018). From a yardage standpoint, his 2018 campaign was a tad more prolific than last year as he rushed for 1,243 yards compared to 1,060 as a senior. He subsequently became the eighth running back in school history to register consecutive seasons of 1,000+ rushing yards. As a result, he won the Henry R. Red Sanders Award (team most valuable player) during both of his seasons with the program.
- impressive production both yardage and touchdown-wise during two years at UCLA;
- a downhill battering ram who can jolt tacklers backward for yards after contact;
- a decisive runner with a sense of urgency when hitting the gaps;
- initial burst and extra gear makes him hard to bring down once he’s in the second and third level;
- punishes arm tacklers with a powerful lower body;
- took on a massive workload and stayed healthy;
- a release valve on screen passes;
- willing and able to take on defenders in pass protection.
- scouts will have concerns regarding him holding up given physical running style;
- struggles to make guys miss when juking laterally;
- fairly limited as a pass-catcher;
- relies too much on raw speed rather than lateral athleticism;
- struggles to anticipate and attack downfield gaps;
- already has quite a bit of mileage on his legs – 647 carries over college career.
NFL Comparison: Lamar Miller
Projection: Fifth to sixth round
Joshua Kelley certainly seemed to be a man on a mission once he arrived at UCLA. He was out to prove many doubters wrong because to say he was lightly recruited out of high school is a massive understatement. After two years, mission accomplished. Kelley garnered team MVP honors both years after he ran for a combined 2,303 yards during his time with the Bruins. He went on to impress at the Senior Bowl, leading all running backs with 105 yards rushing. Making it all the more impressive was his seven yards per carry average.
Perhaps Kelley’s biggest strength is his gritty downhill style of running. At the next level, though, it could become a weakness as it will make him susceptible to injury when going up against NFL-level physicality. His raw speed is above-average which he demonstrated at the Combine as he was one of seven running backs to run a sub 4.50 40. But that will only get you so far in the pros if you’re not the most adept lateral mover. That could be an issue for Kelley as it will make it tough for him to elude the best wrap-up tacklers at the next level. In summary, Kelley has the makings of a day three selection for a team looking to bolster their depth chart with a reliable running back with a track record of success.