Chad Kelly doing his best to convince an NFL team to take a chance on him
With his turbulent collegiate career behind him, former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is hoping to receive a clean state as he works toward the start of his pro career. After throwing for 6,800 yards and 50 touchdowns in just two seasons for the Rebels, Kelly unquestionably has the talent to make an NFL roster – but his character is another story.
Kelly made his way to Mobile, Alabama for the 2017 Senior Bowl with the hopes of rehabbing his image to any NFL team that’s willing to hear him out. The star Rebel quarterback is well aware that his past haunts him during the pre-draft process but he hopes NFL teams will see beyond his mistakes when evaluating his potential.
“They’re thinking that it’s going to be taking a chance on me, for sure,” Kelly said, according to John Zenor of the AP. “I’ve made stupid mistakes in the past. I can’t deny that. But with that being said, I’ve learned from it. I’m not the same person I was a long time ago.”
Judging by his history, Kelly is speaking honestly. The nephew of Buffalo Bills hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly, Chad was an elite high school prospect coming out of Buffalo, New York. After signing with Clemson, Kelly threw a tantrum during spring football and had to be removed from the field by security. Head coach Dabo Swinney threw him off the team immediately.
Trouble again found Kelly just before arriving at Ole Miss, as he was tossed out of a Buffalo bar and allegedly threatened to return with a machine gun. Kelly mostly steered clear of controversy while in Oxford, although he did run onto a high school field to protect his brother during Ole Miss’ bye week and was photographed sitting at a table that contained marijuana soon after his season-ending knee injury in November.
Neither incident would have met with much publicity normally, but given his past, both stories made headlines during the season. It remains to be seen how much his past hurts his stock in the upcoming draft but Kelly seems open to discussing any and all topics with scouts and management at the Senior Bowl this week.
“That’s the biggest thing. You’ve got to make sure you’re saying the right stuff to every team because they all speak to each other,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to be honest, of course, but you’ve got to admit to what you did and you’ve got to try to convince them that you’ve learned from those mistakes and that you’re not going to make them again.
“The owner doesn’t want to hear about it. The GM doesn’t want to hear about what you did. They want to know if you’ve learned from it and won’t make the same mistake twice.”
If Kelly is involved in any other incidents between now and the draft, don’t be surprised if he goes undrafted, forcing Kelly to prove himself as a rookie free agent. However, if he aces his interviews and his knee heals as scheduled, Kelly could become the next great NFL quarterback to come from the SEC. All it will take is one team to pull the trigger and believe in the former Ole Miss star.
Talent often trumps all in the NFL’s eyes and that’s something that has never been a problem for Kelly.