If only every sixth-round draft choice could work out like Jason Kelce. If you knew nothing about his story and had never watched football until about a year ago, you may have allowed yourself to believe that the Philadelphia Eagles legend carved his collegiate resume at one of the perennial powers of NCAA football before hearing his name called in Round 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Nope! Kelce is six-foot-three. He tips the scales at 295 pounds, and prior to being the Eagles’ eighth draft choice in a class that began with the addition of Danny Watkins as the 23rd-overall selection, Jason played for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Some might call those ‘humble beginnings’. Others might say that the Eagles need to use the Bearcats as a farm system more often. After all, they also found Brent Celek and Trent Cole there too. That’s another story for another day though. The point of all of that is this.
No one knew Jason Kelce would turn out to be one of the greatest Eagles of all time. If they did, they wouldn’t have taken Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh, Casey Matthews, Alex Henery, Dion Lewis, and Julian Vandervelde ahead of him. They most certainly wouldn’t have drafted Watkins 23rd-overall.
He’s certainly on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, or is he? Recently, an argument was presented stating he and another great Eagle, Fletcher Cox may not be foregone conclusions.
The Football Outsiders debate whether or not Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox are Hall of Famers.
If you’re keeping score, there’s no need to recalculate. Jason Kelce was indeed the third offensive lineman Philly took in 2011. The annual selection meeting is, indeed, a crap shoot, but the Philadelphia Eagles rolled the dice and won big with the former two-time Second-Team All-Big East nod (2009 and 2010).
Even that’s hard to believe. Who in the heck beat him out and landed on the first team? Who in the heck was on the first team?
Here’s an intriguing read if you haven’t already come across it. Mike Tanier of the Football Outsiders took some time to analyze the Hall-of-Fame credentials of not only Jason Kelce, but also Jason Peters, Fletcher Cox, and Malcolm Jenkins.
Here are a couple of the things he believes are working against Number 62:
- Jeff Saturday, Tom Nalen, Forrest Blue, Jeff Van Note, Mark Stepnoski, Olin Kreutz, Bart Oates, Kent Hull, and Jay Hilgenberg all played the center position and are all worthy of having their busts carved. However, as of now, that hasn’t happened, and no one should be shocked if it never does. All nine of these men make Kelce’s road a harder one.
- Heading into the 2022-2023 NFL season, Jason Peters still hasn’t announced his retirement. It isn’t impossible that he plays another season and retires at the same time Kelce would. That would make them eligible for Hall-of-Fame consideration at the same time. In other words, Peters, in all likelihood, becomes a roadblock to Kelce’s future enshrinement.
The bar is set insanely high for centers. Kelce has an obvious argument for candidacy, but so do so many others. Tanier argues that Jason may have a better argument than the nine guys he’s named here and that his personality may continue to keep him in the public eye long after he hangs the cleats up. One other thing to note is this.
"Kelce also helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, and neither his nor that team’s legacy is tied to a Hall of Fame quarterback or coach. You surely noticed that most of the famous centers in the list above were introduced as “Peyton’s center” or “Aikman’s center,” or they were tied to Ditka or Parcells. Tingelhoff was Fran Tarkenton’s center on Bud Grant’s not-quite champions. You can see how that can diminish a center’s legacy, not just by making him look like a wingman but by placing him behind several ring-bearing teammates in the Hall of Fame priority queue."
Call us biased or whatever you will, but Jason Kelce is well-deserving of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As the seasons pass, it’s becoming more difficult to deny that.
Entering his 12th NFL season, he’s a Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowler (2014, 2016, 2019–2021), and a four-time First-team All-Pro (2017–2019, 2021). He’s anchored the Eagles’ offensive line for Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson, and Nick Sirianni. He never misses games, and he’s gotten better as he’s aged. Not bad for a former sixth-rounder.
Jason Kelce might be the most beloved Bird of the past 20 years. No disrespect is intended to Brian Dawkins. We’ll call them 1 and 1a. Sure, it will take more than that to assure him of the call and the gold jacket, but again, the resume speaks for itself.
The eyeball test never fails, and after watching the entire journey, here’s the verdict. Jason Kelce could be named to another Pro Bowl roster in 2022. That will give him six for his career. He’s a shoo-in for the Eagles Hall of Fame and his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is only a matter of time. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.