NFL Draft

2020 NFL Draft Player Profiles: UCLA RB Joshua Kelley

From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#27 Joshua Kelley/RB UCLA – 5’11 219

The Good

– Big frame with broad shoulders and thick lower half
– Defined run style, knows the type of back he is, routinely gets downhill and runs in a line
– Good vision, able to press the hole and set up first and second level defenders, finds the bubble and attacks it
– Gets shoulders square when he makes his decision to create power
– Shows explosiveness when making his initial cut and has more burst than you’d expect in space
– Runs through arm tackles, hard for DBs to go low and bring him down
– Willing pass protector and stays square in pass protection
– Didn’t catch many passes but flashes plus hands and ability to adjust to the ball away from his frame
– Works well in a downhill, power/man scheme
– Capable of being the workhorse, lead back and “the guy” to win games
– Shows good ball security, isn’t loose with his carriage of the football
– Minor kick return value

The Bad

– Average athlete who lacks long speed to run away from defenders in the third level, will get tracked down by DBs downfield
– Takes too many steps to gather self in changing directions once up to speed, needs time to decelerate, and won’t work as well in a zone scheme, despite having plus vision
– Will run a bit too tall because of his height and saps him of power, needs to improve pad level
– Capable of pushing the pile forward but not overwhelmingly powerful who can throw defenders off of him
– Will outrun his blocks on trap blocks, needs to show consistent patience letting them get set up
– Didn’t catch many passes, small sample size in evaluating his hands


– 20 career starts
– UCLA career: 454 carries, 2303 yards 24 TDs, 38 career receptions
– 2019: 225 carries 1243 yards 12 TDs
– Began college career at UC Davis, transferred in 2017 (sat out, per NCAA rules), rushed for over 1100 yards there
– Came to UCLA as a walk-on
– Averaged 24.3 yards per kick return in 2016, including 91 yard TD
– Ran for nearly 1500 yards and 16 TDs as a senior in high school
– Part of HS’s 4×100 relay team

Tape Breakdown

Joshua. Kelley. Football.

That doesn’t carry quite the same ring as “Benny Snell Football” but on tape, the two guys are pretty similar. Similar sizes and running styles. Kelley is a downhill runner who doesn’t have much wiggle, a little bit of burst but far from amazing, but also better hands than expected for a guy who didn’t catch the rock much in college.

Here’s a look at his downhill run style. I just like how he makes his cut, gets his shoulders square, and gets vertical. Very much a North/South runner. As we saw in Snell, he knows what type of back he is and makes no bones about it.


And like I said, his hands aren’t bad. Check out this adjustment and grab away from his body against Washington State.


But he works best, and probably only works, in a power, downhill run scheme. Takes too many steps to gather himself and change directions. His vision is strong, he sets up the hole well, but doesn’t have the lateral quickness to change directions.


In backstory, there are similarities to Snell as well. Salt of the Earth type of player. Snell was overlooked by all the big Ohio schools, a three star recruit who committed to Kentucky. Kelley was a two-star prospect in California, had almost no interest coming out – UC Davis appears to be his only option – before transferring and walking onto the Bruins’ campus. So good for him for being able to make his own path.

I feel similarly about Kelley as I did Snell. A decent prospect, I see the value, but not someone I was super excited over. I was focused more on the likelihood they were going to draft Snell, not that I was banging the table for him.

In a tough running back class, it’s going to be hard for Kelley to find a path but much like his college days, maybe he proves doubters wrong again. Having an impressive Combine workout would help but I’m not holding my breath.

Projection: Mid-Late Day Three

Games Watched: vs USC (2018), at Washington State, at Arizona, Senior Bowl


Previous 2020 NFL Draft Player Profiles
WR Joe Reed RB J.K. Dobbins TE Brycen Hopkins DT Neville Gallimore WR Collin Johnson
S Brandon Jones IOL Nick Harris TE Jared Pinkney EDGE Terrell Lewis WR Stephen Sullivan
QB Jalen Hurts CB Bryce Hall SS Jared Mayden TE Cole Kmet IOL Shane Lemieux
WR Denzel Mims WR James Proche EDGE Bradlee Anae TE Sean McKeon WR Michael Pittman
IOL Darryl Williams RB Cam Akers OG Ben Bredeson EDGE Alton Robinson EDGE Josh Uche
WR Tyler Johnson OT Josh Jones
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