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Film Review: Can UDFA Kam Kelly be a hidden gem for the Dallas Cowboys?

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Kameron Kelly has the potential to be a steal for the Cowboys.

NCAA Football: Boise State at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Blogging The Boys has published film reviews on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys’ draft picks, but America’s Team also added talent in the UDFA pool. Today, we will look at one of the more intriguing prospects in which the Cowboys inked following the draft: Dallas-Fort Worth native Kameron Kelly.


The Dallas Cowboys addressed many of their needs during the draft this April: a potential starting linebacker that happened to be one of the most athletic prospects in this year’s crop? Check. A first-round caliber talent at offensive line that has the ability to play inside at guard or shift out to tackle if needed? Check. A wide receiver that was among the best route-runners in his class while also being a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award? Check.

One area that was not addressed, however, was the safety position. With the decision to move 2015 first-round selection Byron Jones to the cornerback position, the Cowboys had an even bigger hole in the secondary. Jeff Heath has his moments and Xavier Woods showed tons of potential during his rookie campaign, but Dallas needs an additional player to step up back there.

Perhaps Kameron Kelly?

Kam Kelly, a Wylie, Texas native, was picked up as an undrafted free agent after starring for the San Diego State Aztecs during his four-season career out on the West Coast. The former three-star product began his career as a wide receiver, but transitioned to the secondary as a sophomore (safety as a So. and Jr., cornerback as Sr.). There, he grew into one of the best in his conference.

From his sophomore season to his senior season, Kelly accounted for 163 total tackles, 110 solo tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, and two sacks from the secondary. Additionally, Kelly picked off nine passes, deflected 15 throws, and forced two fumbles.

The first team All-Mountain West performer possesses great instincts that allows him to read and react in both coverage and in making tackles. Against the Stanford Cardinal, Kelly held his own. In this first clip, Kelly is on the bottom the screen in zone coverage. Kelly immediately flies to the ball and wraps the pass catcher up.

In this next clip, Kelly is again lined up on the bottom of the screen — this time in a press coverage. Kelly shows off his coverage skills and completely smothers the Cardinal’s receiver, forcing the quarterback to look at the opposite side of the field. This isn’t a play that will show up in the box score, but it’s a play that will help you win ball games.

The first clip showed Kelly’s instincts when tackling and the second clip showed some of his coverage skills. This third clip gives you a look of what he can do in blitz packages. The defensive back rushes off of the edge and hits the quarterback, forcing a fumble.

Star running back and Hesiman runner-up Bryce Love stood no chance in stopping Kelly from disrupting the play.

When the staff at BTB gave our Pet Cat picks, Kelly was my choice for his versatility, size, and production.

My pet cat is Kameron Kelly for a few different reasons. For one, he’s a versatile defensive back that can play either corner or safety. His 6-foot-2, 204-pound frame and 31 ¾ arms gives him the size necessary to battle both wide receivers and tight ends. Secondly, Kelly showcased his ball skills during his days at San Diego State, picking off nine passes over his career, deflecting 15, and he was always around the football. Kelly’s 110 career solo tackles, eight TFLs, and two sacks are also impressive. The Wylie native can play all over the defensive backfield, can be utilized in blitz packages, and can make an impact on the team in some capacity if given the opportunity.

Furthermore, the coaching staff — namely Kris Richard — is high on Kelly’s traits and production. In fact, Kelly gets the vibe that Richard is ‘trying to turn (Kelly) into the next Richard Sherman’. Yes, All-Pro Richard Sherman.

The former Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator is well-known for loving length and physicality in his secondary, two attributes no one has ever accused Kelly of lacking. His athleticism included, Richard appears to have plans for the former San Diego State star that could carve out a spot for him on the team’s final 53-man roster this season.

“I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something,” said Kelly of Richard, via the team’s website.

“Right now they’ve got me playing corner, but then I asked Coach Richard after practice if he wants me to learn safety, and he said yes because at any time he could just plug me back there,” said Kelly. “I went up to the receivers coaches and was like, ‘Hey, if you want me to play receiver, I’ll play receiver for you all, too.’

Kelly’s size compares favorably to the former Stanford defensive back, as well as his toughness and versatility. Similar to Sherman, Kelly fell through the cracks on draft day. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked Kelly as the 13th best safety in the 2018 draft class.

The biggest “knock” on Kameron Kelly might be the fact he doesn’t have a true position. That sounds like a negative, but it’s a good thing. He has amazing ball skills and high-points the football at impressive heights with his lengthy frame. He’s not an overly athletic corner, which is why many teams will look to play him at safety.

GRADE: 5.99 (Round 4)

Miller wasn’t alone on being high on the SDSU product, as the draft guru himself, Dane Brugler, said that it’s “easy to appreciate the toughness” that Kelly plays with.


It remains to be seen if Kelly can make the 53-man roster — much less grow into a contributor for the Cowboys — but the DFW native has the talent to make an impact for his hometown team.