Jason Kelce

Is Jason Kelce a Hall of Famer?

Is Jason Kelce a Hall of Famer?

It’s not that outlandish. It’s not that crazy.

Jason Kelce is making a hell of a case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kelce’s grew up in Cleveland Heights, about an hour north of Canton. One home in Northeastern Ohio to another.

It takes a little getting used to the notion of Kelce as a Hall of Famer. He’s not like Reggie White, who simply recorded more sacks than anybody in history before he retired. He’s not like Brian Dawkins, who made highlight reel after highlight reel with his thunderous hits and monumental plays.

Kelce operates in anonymity, like most centers do, but watch him. Focus on him. Train your eyes away from the quarterback, the backs and the receivers and watch No. 62 for a series or two.

It’s magic. 

You’ll see a guy who makes his living blending speed, power, athleticism and intelligence so routinely and so consistently it’s easy to forget he weighs close to 300 pounds.

Whether he’s racing 20 yards down the field to clear space for Boston Scott on a screen or combo blocking a pass rusher with Brandon Brooks or knocking a linebacker out of the way to make a hole for Miles Sanders, Kelce does his job play after play, game after game, year after year.

And all of a sudden you realize he’s been doing it better than any other center for a decade.

On Friday, Kelce learned he had made First Team All-Pro for the third year in a row. Let’s put that in context:

• He’s only the second center to make All-Pro three straight times in the last 30 years, the first since Dermontti Dawson in the 1990s. The other centers selected All-Pro three straight years since 1930? Bulldog Turner in the 1940s, Jim Langer in the 1970s, Mike Webster in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dwight Stephenson in the 1980s and Dawson. Every one is a Hall of Famer.

• Kelce is the first offensive lineman drafted in the sixth round or later named All-Pro three times since Rayfield Wright of the Cowboys in the early 1970s. Wright is a Hall of Famer.

• Kelce is the only center named All-Pro at least three times in the last 20 years.

• Kelce is only the third offensive lineman in history named All-Pro three times in his 30s. The others — Jim Ringo and Gene Hickerson — are Hall of Famers.

• Kelce is only the fourth player in franchise to win a championship and be a three-time All-Pro. The others? Chuck Bednarik, Pete Pihos and Steve Van Buren. All Hall of Famers.

• Kelce is one of only seven centers in history to earn All-Pro honors three times and win a championship … the only one in the last 35 years.

Like a lot of late-round picks, especially ones who play on the offensive line, it took a while for the NFL to notice Kelce. He didn’t make his first Pro Bowl unit his fourth season and didn’t make his first All-Pro team unit his seventh. 

He was already one of the best in the league. But few knew it yet.

Now everybody knows.

The best thing about Kelce is that he literally doesn’t care about any of this stuff. 

I asked him about the Hall of Fame on Friday and he shook his head and laughed as he wiped some strawberry banana smoothie off his beard. He’s got a playoff game Sunday to prepare for, there’s no time to think about nonsense like individual honors.

He told me once one of the reasons he likes playing on the offensive line is because there are no individual stats. He loves the fact that you’re judged by the way you play as a group. 

“I reflect more on the team,” he said Friday. “That’s why this game is the greatest game there is, in my opinion. It’s the teamwork required, especially up front on the offensive line. That’s the reason this game is special.” 

And really, when we’re telling the story of Jason Kelce, it’s less about honors and awards and more about what happened on Feb. 4, 2018, when the Eagles toppled the greatest coach and the greatest quarterback in history.

Nobody personified that team more than Kelce, and his performance a few days later on the art museum steps meant as much to Eagles fans as anything he’s done on the field.

He grew up playing soccer. Arrived at college as a defensive lineman. Was the 191st  player taken in the draft.

Now he’s the best in the world, and one day he’ll stand on the stage at McKinley High School in Canton and deliver the greatest speech in Hall of Fame history.

And then he’ll probably crack open a Miller light and go bowling. 

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Jason Kelce named an all-pro for 3rd time in career

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Jason Kelce named an all-pro for 3rd time in career

The case for Jason Kelce as the best center of his generation an a potential Hall of Fame candidate got stronger Friday when he was named first-team all-pro for the third time in his brilliant career.

He’s the eighth player in franchise history to earn first-team all-pro honors from the Associated Press three times. 

"Jason Kelce epitomizes what this team is all about,” Doug Pederson said earlier in the day. “I could spend this entire press conference talking about what he means to this team and what he means to me."

Chuck Bednarik and Reggie White (6 times), Pete Pihos and Steve Van Buren (five times) and Brian Dawkins and Al Wistert (four times) are the only players to earn all-pro more than Kelce since the AP began giving out the award in 1940. 

All are Hall of Famers except Wistert, who is a seniors finalist this year. Hall of Famer Bob Brown and Keith Jackson are also three-time all-pros.

Kelce is the 13th center in history to receive all-pro honors three or more times. Of the 12 others, 11 are in the Hall of Fame — all but Clyde Smith, who played for the Providence Cowboys, Cleveland Bulldogs and Providence Steam Roller in the 1920s (and made a pre-AP version of the NFL all-pro team).

Last month, Kelce was named to his third Pro Bowl team. This is the first time in his career he’s been named all-pro and a Pro Bowler the same season.

Kelce was the 191st player taken in the 2011 draft. He’s the 13th offensive lineman in NFL history drafted in the sixth round or later to earn all-pro honors at least three times and the first since Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright of the Cowboys in the early 1970s.

Kelce hasn’t missed a game since 2014. 

The only other centers to earn three all-pro first-team honors in the last 30 years are Steelers Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson in the 1990s and Kevin Mawae more recently with the Jets and Titans.

Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson finished third in balloting at guard and tackle. The AP issues only a first and second team. Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox each got a vote.

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A look at Derek Barnett's career, Jason Kelce's future and more in Roob's Random Observations!

A look at Derek Barnett's career, Jason Kelce's future and more in Roob's Random Observations!

A look at Derek Barnett's career so far, a rookie who needs to shine Sunday and Jason Kelce's future in today's edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!  

1. Let’s be honest. A loss Sunday would be catastrophic. I don’t want to hear about Saquon this or Daniel Jones that. I believe the Eagles will win. They should win. They better win. If they don’t? Maybe the Cowboys will find a way to lose to the Redskins and the Eagles can back into the playoffs, but if the Eagles do hand the Cowboys the division after beating them head-to-head last weekend that will be a disaster of epic proportions. As banged up as they are, if the Eagles lose with a playoff berth at stake to a 4-11 Giants team with nothing to play for and a rookie quarterback and a coach on the hot seat and the No. 24 offense and No. 23 defense then people deserve to be fired.

2. Amazing that the offense can lose Zach Ertz, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson and Nelson Agholor and I’m still more concerned with the Eagles’ defense going into Sunday. Because I have no idea which defense is going to show up. Seven times the Eagles have allowed 27 or more points. Eight times they’ve allowed 17 or fewer points. Only once have they allowed between 17 and 27, and that was the Falcons Week 2. All or nothing. When they're good, they're really good. When they're bad they're wretched. But here’s a scary notion: The Eagles allowed 16.8 points per game at home, 5th-best in the league. But they’re allowing 29.0 on the road, 4th-WORST. Facing a Giants team that’s scored 77 points in its last two games, that’s not very comforting.  

3. I’ll be shocked if Carson Wentz doesn’t have a huge game Sunday.

4. Derek Barnett always plays hard, gives great effort. And his fumble recovery in the Super Bowl was obviously unforgettable. But all he has to show for his first three seasons is 12 sacks and a bunch of injuries. Mike Mamula had 17 1/2 sacks his first three seasons and Barnett is 5 1/2 back with a game to go. Barnett was the 14th pick in the 2017 draft, and 48 defensive ends have more sacks over the last three years. I never use the “B” word. I don’t think it’s fair to tag a draft pick a bust because you never know what the future holds. Look at Brandon Graham. BUT … it is fair to say that Barnett has been a major disappointment so far.

5. It’s amazing how much better a coach Mike Groh is when guys are actually catching the football.  

6. Greg Ward isn’t technically a rookie, but among undrafted receivers in their first year playing in the NFL, he already has the second-most catches in Eagles history with 22 behind only … Dick Humbert, who caught 29 passes in 1941. All this despite playing in only six games  — only five on offense.

7. The Eagles’ three-game winning streak is the first in franchise history in which they haven’t recorded an interception in any of the games. They’ve faced 141 passes since their last interception  — Ronald Darby on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first pass of the Miami game. Good for them winning three straight games without an INT, but they could sure use a couple Sunday.

8. He’s 32 years old now. Finishing his 9th NFL season. Has played 131 games. Three-time Pro Bowler, two-time all-pro. Super Bowl champ, Super Bowl parade superstar, all-time great Eagle, future Eagles Hall of Fame lock. Has a baby at home and lots of non-football interests. I can’t imagine not seeing Jason Kelce playing football for the Eagles every Sunday, but I just wonder how much longer he’s going to put his body through what he’s been putting it through for the last decade.

9. One guy the Eagles really need Sunday is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. I expect Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert and Greg Ward to do their thing, but the Eagles need more than that. They need some production on the outside, and he’s going to be the only wide receiver in uniform who wasn’t on the practice squad earlier this year. JJAW was a second-round pick, and he needs to play like it Sunday.

10. Whatever happens Sunday, I hope Eagles fans go into this offseason secure in the knowledge that this team has an elite quarterback capable of carrying a team a long, long way. What Wentz has done down the stretch with a collection of rookies, backups and practice squad call-ups has been nothing less than remarkable. Wentz has 3,750 passing yards without a wide receiver over 500 yards, and that’s unprecedented in NFL history. Sanders is a stud, and Ward is a nice complimentary piece, but it’s up to Howie Roseman and his staff to surround Wentz with elite playmakers this offseason. But anybody who is still doubting or questioning Wentz? I just don’t think you’re a true Eagles fan. You can’t be.

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