Chad Kelly – Senior / 6’2″ / 215 – Ole Miss
- 2016: Florida State, Auburn, Georgia, Memphis
- 2015: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Arkansas
The Skinny: Mr. Kelly adjusts to make throws under pressure very well. He displays very nifty footwork, he does not take unnecessary steps or chances with feet. His deep ball is very spotty as he tends to rush it. He will likely need to prove himself as practice squad grinder or UDFA.
If you roll the clock back to the summer of 2016, Chad Kelly was at worst going to be a third round pick in 2017 draft. This after he was dismissed from the Clemson program in April of 2014. Kelly went on to win a National Championship with East Mississippi Community College the following season. That opened a door at Ole Miss for redemption at the D1 level. In 2015, Kelly blueprinted and beat Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. Hence his higher status last summer. Yet during his time at Ole Miss Kelly had a run-in with a bouncer and in 2016, he tore ACL and meniscus. There was also an incident involving Kelly charging the field at a high school football where his brother was apparently hit illegally. His baggage and injury history does not fit in the overhead compartment. They are also the main reason his stock is in the tank. There is still some intrigue, however, with his football talent and head screwed straight he could make for a decent NFL starter.
His big time arm is not surprising considering his uncle is a four-time Super Bowl participant and former Buffalo Bill Jim Kelly. He throws with great anticipation even under heavy distress. In certain situations, he has a tendency to stare down his top option. This gets him trouble sometimes. While other times he uses it set up a deeper option and defenses have certainly taken the bait. That being said he does lack some creativity when the game is close or in the waning moments. This may be attributed to the play call or a lack of understanding the defensive complexity on Kelly’s part. Either way, he will need to answer these questions before he can be truly considered as a starting NFL QB.
He was exclusively a shotgun QB in college which not is necessarily a huge concern (2016 numbers have the league-wide shotgun percentage at 60% of the time). He was also very fearless when tucking and running for positive yardage. This is concerning as we all saw happened with RGIII and his unwillingness to slide. Kelly is also not a fluid rusher. In fact, he looks pretty ugly. He rumbles and stumbles like 1970s fullback. That being said he is successful in doing so but the NFL can be a guillotine to even the most graceful.
Kelly is a classic/both feet planted type of passer. Somehow, a majority of the time he is able to bring himself back to platform to throw. His quick release enables this but/yet he still has accuracy problems downfield or beyond 15 yards. With his pedigree and raw tools, he is ripe for the developmental process. Since he stands just 6-foot-2 he gets in trouble throwing off his back foot, while trying to remain tall in the pocket. This also allows his passes float over the intended receiver’s head. Floaters are easier to intercept as well and Kelly has certainly thrown his share. The other issue is that Kelly is accurate in the intermediate with that same back weighted throw. It might be a hard thing to change. He needs to adjust and step into those throws much like a baseball centerfielder does when trying to throw out a runner advancing to third. That should reduce the float and sharpen his accuracy.
Fantasy Outlook: He goes through progressions well and he will stare down one option then adjust to find an open man deeper downfield. Things will happen faster at the NFL level but if Kelly is given the benefit of red-shirt/practice squad year he should feel more at ease. Whatever situation he is eventually thrust into should not engulf him if he is adequately prepared.
Joining his former teammate Laquon Treadwell in Minnesota could be an intriguing marriage. He would obviously be nothing more than a backup until Teddy Bridgewater returns. Kelly would likely be a more well-rounded solution than current backup and third-year pro out of Old Dominion Taylor Heinicke. Kelly also certainly presents more future upside than Case Keenum. If Bridgewater is never able to return to full health and Sam Bradford moves on Kelly would have a real chance if remains mature through the process.
Arizona seems like a bit of longshot. If they miss on their other intended QB targets, Kelly seems like the perfect low risk/high reward possibility. He would be a fantastic triggerman considering the current burners the Cardinals have in their WR corps.
Chicago seems just blue collar enough to work. With John Fox there Kelly would certainly not even sniff the field for a year or two. This could be the ultimate incubation period for Kelly. Come 2019, Kelly would be a Jimmy Garoppolo 2.0 hype machine.
Also why not Cleveland?
The current active pro comparison that best fits what Kelly can bring to a team is Andy Dalton. The limitations are very real but his upside is that of a successful NFL QB. I am a little surprised that Kelly is not receiving Brett Favre comparisons. I see a ton of Favre in his quick release and his fearless slinger style.
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