2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Chad Kelly

  • Chad Kelly, 6-1/225

  • Quarterback

  • Ole Miss

  • Chad Kelly Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Powerful arm
  • Will fit passes into tight windows
  • Pocket presence
  • Flashes field vision
  • Ball placement
  • Can make all the throws required
  • Throws a catchable ball
  • Can pick up yards on the ground
  • Mobility
  • Can hurt defenses on the ground
  • Athletic upside

  • Weaknesses:
  • Huge character concerns
  • Lots of off-the-field issues
  • Prone to big mistakes in clutch, pressure situations
  • Short
  • Two torn ACLs
  • Inconsistent accuracy
  • Inconsistent field vision
  • Inconsistent decision-making
  • Will need to learn working under center
  • Transition from a college-style to pro-style offense

  • Summary: One can’t be surprised if growing up in Buffalo with the last name of Kelly results in some pressure on and some arrogance from a high school quarterback. That is the case with Chad Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. The Bills star is close with his nephew, but that never showed up in Chad Kelly’s collegiate career in terms of exhibiting the kind of strong character and leadership. Being the nephew of Jim Kelly seems to have created an “Affluenza” quarterback.

    Chad Kelly had a star-crossed journey in college football. After committing to Clemson, Kelly redshirted as a freshman there in 2012. He tore his ACL in 2013, but the next year, found himself in the battle to replace Tajh Boyd as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. It was a three-way battle with veteran Cole Stoudt and incoming freshman Deshaun Watson, but Kelly was mainly competing with Stoudt as Watson had a collar bone injury.

    The competition particularly showed Kelly’s lack of maturity, including trash talking Stoudt on his twitter. The issues were also seen in Kelly having a number of emotional outbursts with the Clemson coaching staff. Things came to a breaking point in the spring game when Kelly shouted at the coaches during halftime. He was benched for the second half and continued to deride the coaches. After a minor fender bender in the parking lot after the game, Kelly was witnessed yelling at a former Miss South Carolina for the accident. Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head coach, then kicked Kelly off the team two days later.

    Kelly transferred to community college at East Mississippi for the 2014 season. That program had just won the junior college national championship, and Kelly continued their dominance as East Mississippi won it again with him at quarterback. That season led to Kelly signing with Ole Miss to get his career back on track. Only a few weeks later, Kelly had a legal issue involving a bar fight with an arrest that included while threatening to go on shooting rampage.

    Kelly landed at Ole Miss and became the Rebels staring quarterback in 2015. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 4,042 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. It was an impressive debut and Kelly got better as the year progressed. Also during his first season with Ole Miss, Chad “Swag” Kelly became known for his self-indulgent rap song, “Chad Kelly,” in which he said he is “like a Mick Vick, only white.”

    As a senior, Kelly completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,758 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions before a torn ACL ended his season early. In losses to Alabama and Florida State where Ole Miss blew huge leads, Kelly had terrible turnovers via bad decisions in crunch time, which made the comebacks possible. There were more negative off-the-field headlines for Kelly in 2016. He ran onto the field to get in a fight during his brother’s high school game and also was outed by porn star Mia Khalifa on twitter for trying to hit her up. While neither of those are big deals, NFL teams don’t view that kind of behavior as what their starting quarterback and face of the franchise should exhibit.

    Overall, Kelly’s performances during the 2016 season confirmed his gun-slinger style of play. He has a powerful arm to make any throw in the NFL, but could stand to get more consistent in his field vision, accuracy and decision-making. Kelly’s strengths not only include the cannon for an arm, but he has athleticism to make plays with his feet. He has the skill set to be a pocket passer in the NFL, but is short for the position.

    While Kelly can’t be blamed for his defense struggling in allowing comebacks to Florida State and Alabama during 2016, Kelly never displayed the leadership and intangibles to push his team to tough victories. He doesn’t have a killer instinct and gets rattled by pressure; both the physical pass rush and the mental/emotional pressure of critical moments in big games. When you add in the off-the-field issues from Kelly’s ego and behavior, it adds to the questions about his on-field intangibles and ability to lead a team. He has a big arm, but I don’t think he has the decision-making and steadiness in his play to be a franchise quarterback. Kelly doesn’t strike me as a winner.

    Kelly still hasn’t seemed to learn how to carry himself. Sources said that he was answering a question from a few teams about why he would be a successful quarterback and his answer was “because I have swag like you’ve never seen before.”

    With Kelly having two torn ACLs, a myriad of off-the-field issues, some flaws as a player, and being short for a NFL quarterback, he could easily go undrafted. He might get selected on Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft, and that is about the highest he could hope to go.

    Player Comparison: Johnny Manziel. Manziel and Kelly have a lot in common. Both are short quarterbacks with quality arms, mobility and athleticism. They also have major off-the-field issues. Ultimately, I think Kelly’s behavior could lead to him being out of the NFL quickly, much like Manziel.

    NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Arizona, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants

    There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams in the NFL. If Kelly were clean off the field, he probably would get drafted as high as the mid-rounds given the demand for the position. Obviously, the Browns are in dire need of a solution to their quarterback quandary. Cleveland also is loaded with draft picks, so Kelly could be in play for one of the organization’s picks on Day 3.

    The 49ers are also desperate for a starting quarterback and a face of the franchise. If John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan wait on taking a quarterback while building up the rest of the roster, Kelly could be a candidate for San Francisco.

    Chicago is expected to move on from Jay Cutler. Kelly could be a candidate to compete for the Bears.

    Houston has a huge need at quarterback, but Kelly won’t be under consideration for the Texans as his character won’t be a match for them.

    The Saints, Chargers, Giants and Cardinals all fall into the category of teams that have aging starting quarterbacks. Each franchise could consider drafting Kelly on the third day and seeing how he develops.


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