NFL Draft Scouting Report: Chad Kelly

Ole Miss
Quarterback #10
Senior, 6’2″ 224

Already a player with a question mark beside his name before arriving to Oxford, Chad Kelly faces plenty of concerns when leaving. Kelly put together a career full of great moments at Ole Miss becoming the first Rebel quarterback to defeat five Top 25 teams in the same season (2015). Kelly shows athleticism to make plays outside the pocket and can wow with wonderful ball placement but has shown plenty of inconsistencies in many areas in his game.

  • Can make every throw on the field with plus arm strength
  • Tries to squeeze throws into highly congested areas that usually result in interceptions
  • Has the toughness, physicality and athleticism to be a threat outside the pocket when the pocket breaks down
  • Poor mechanics led to many inaccurate elementary throws
  • Inconsistent decision making and accuracy downfield (mostly thrown into double coverage accompanied by overthrows)
  • Had 15 rushing touchdowns in three seasons (one at Clemson)
  • Only Ole Miss quarterback to defeat Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season
  • Only Ole Miss quarterback to defeat five ranked opponents in the same season (2015).
  • 2015 All-SEC Second Team

A unanimous four-star recruit out of Buffalo, New York, Kelly chose to start his college football career at Clemson under Dabo Swinney before seeing it come to an abrupt end. Kelly had a run in with the Tiger coaching staff and was later kicked off the team by displaying “a pattern of behavior that is not consistent” to the values of the Clemson program (Swinney). After leading the highly regarded East Mississippi Junior College team to a 12-0 record and a national championship, he chose to play at Ole Miss for his final two years of eligibility.

Kelly put together a solid rookie season defeating many perennial SEC powers while taking home All-SEC Second Team honors with a Sugar Bowl MVP award. Though his season ended a few games early, Kelly finished his career at Ole Miss ranking first in completion percentage (63.9 percent) and third in both passing yards (6,800) and passing touchdowns (50).

In a pass-heavy spread offensive scheme, Kelly fell victim to quick throws that didn’t call for appropriate lower body mechanics. Not having his upper half and lower half in-sync, Kelly’s throws resulted in spotty accuracy with either incompletions or dead throws (my phrase of not hitting the receiver on stride resulting in no yards after the catch). Many times, though, Kelly’s top-notch arm strength cancelled out the poor mechanics and dead throws. He is also accustomed to making many throws off his back leg but then when throwing with both legs he will occasionally lockout his front knee which results in poor accuracy. Though the completion here, watch the way Kelly delivers the ball while pretty much keeping his lower body stationary. Even though this clip is from the 2015 season, this was a regular occurrence for Kelly as a senior.

Kelly has the physical passing tools to be a top-level quarterback in the league and I actually recall myself saying on a podcast in November that I would not be surprised to see Kelly as a productive starter in the league in few years based on his arm talent and ability. One of his more favorable traits is throwing on the run as he more than often shows accuracy accompanied by his arm strength to make excellent sideline throws.

If Kelly had to trademark a throw during his career it would be the back shoulder pass. Kelly and, now Minnesota Viking receiver, Laquon Treadwell made this a consistent theme of the Rebel offense in 2015 and both parties benefitted from this style of throw. He kept this theme in 2016 trusting his receivers to make plays on the ball for him with tight end Evan Engram and receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow. Complementing with his physical passing style, Kelly also shows a physical edge running the ball while also showing vision and patience (on both scrambles and designed runs).

With off the field concerns being a consistent theme in his college tenure, Kelly will be heavily interrogated during the draft process especially not being able to completely participate in physical activities with his recent (Nov. 5) knee injury. A playmaker in many ways, Kelly has the talent to make and stay on a roster but inconsistencies in mechanics, decision making and maturity may prevent him from ever being a weekly starter in the league. He has the grit and determination to fight for any opportunity the league may give him.

Round Value: Fifth Round

NFL Comparison: A more athletic Jay Cutler

The comparison comes into play when both quarterbacks show glimpses of incredible ball placement and nice arm strength but mix it with levels of poor accuracy and terrible game jeopardizing mistakes. The arm talent is evident for both quarterbacks.




About Christian Page 135 Articles
Co-owner, co-host and website manager of The Draftster. Scout for Optimum Scouting.

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