Weight: 224 pounds
School: Ole Miss Rebels
Chad Kelly 2017 NFL Draft Profile
It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that Chad Kelly boasts a relative who made quite a name for himself in the NFL. His uncle is none other than Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, perhaps the most impactful player in Buffalo Bills history. The younger Kelly played high school ball in the Western New York area. And he quickly emerged as a top recruit at the quarterback position.
Rated as the fourth-best dual-threat signal caller in the nation by Rivals in 2012, Kelly committed to Clemson. After sitting out a year, he made a minimal contribution as a redshirt freshman, appearing in five games and totaling 58 yards passing and 117 yards on the ground. The following season, Kelly was certainly in the mix to win the starting job along with Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson.
But that’s when concerns about his character began to mount. After getting benched in the second half of the spring game, Kelly began berating coaches. A few days later, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney decided to dismiss him from the team. It forced Kelly to transfer to East Mississippi Community College to try and salvage his collegiate career.
Not surprisingly, Kelly’s talent shined at junior college level. He led EMCC to a 12-0 record and a JuCo national title, throwing for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns in the process. His exploits attracted the attention of Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Kelly eventually committed to the Rebels in December 2014. But later that month, Kelly was involved in a brawl outside a Buffalo nightclub where he allegedly assaulted a bouncer and resisted arrest. He faced seven charges but ultimately pled guilty to disorderly conduct and served no jail time.
Despite the incident, Kelly kept his place at Ole Miss with Freeze naming him starter for the 2015 season. He repaid that faith in spades by leading the SEC in pass yards per game (310.9) and touchdown passes (31). Against Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl, he threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-20 rout of the Cowboys. Kelly won game MVP for his efforts. He continued to cement his status as one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks as a senior until an ACL injury against Georgia Southern on November 5th ended his season.
- quick, efficient release of the football.
- ability to make a wide array of short, intermediate and deep ball passes.
- puts the ball where only his receiver can get it on back shoulder throws.
- tape shows excellent timing and touch in finding wideouts in stride.
- ball comes out in a tight spiral with good velocity.
- exceptional mobility; able to convert third downs with his feet.
- fierce competitor who held his own in the ultra-tough SEC.
- comes out for big games; named Sugar Bowl MVP.
- one of only two quarterbacks in the nation to have a win over Alabama in the last two years.
- product of a pass-happy spread offense; will need to adapt to pro-style schemes.
- too quick to key on primary read without cycling through progressions.
- doesn’t anticipate pressure particularly well.
- needs to learn to throw the ball away instead of taking costly sacks.
- messy footwork on three/five/seven-step dropbacks.
- deep ball tends to float on him; instinctive safeties can pounce in zone coverage.
- extremely injury prone; suffered two ACL tears in college, Pro Day cut short due to wrist injury.
- multiple off-field red flags; kicked off team at Clemson; arrested for disorderly conduct in December 2014.
NFL Comparison: Matt Barkley
Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins
Projection: fifth to sixth round
After an exceptional junior campaign, it would’ve come as no surprise to see Kelly forego his final season of eligibility and enter the draft. But he decided to stay one more year, hoping to lead the Rebels to an SEC title. Ultimately, his senior season ended prematurely due to injury and Ole Miss missed out on a bowl.
Kelly’s off-the-field issues are well-documented. And with the Combine’s new policy of refusing to let players convicted of violent offenses participate, he found himself unable to showcase his skills at the event. His situation is similar to that of Joe Mixon, himself barred as a result of a now infamous altercation in which he punched a woman.
One cannot doubt Kelly’s talent. When given the opportunity to start at Ole Miss, it didn’t take long for him to emerge as a top quarterback in the nation’s toughest conference. His arm strength, extensive pass repertoire and mobility are all necessary to make an impact at the next level. But durability concerns and legitimate questions about his character make it highly likely he doesn’t come off the board until day three of the draft.