Waiting nearly the entire selection process before hearing his name called with the final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft had to have been a humiliating experience for Chad Kelly. Once assumed to be an elite NFL prospect, the former standout Ole Miss quarterback had a miserable finish to his college career and an even worse pre-draft process.
With his Oxford career behind him, Kelly was unable to avoid the many question marks surrounding him leading up to the draft. Whether it was the concerns regarding his past behavior or a growing list of injuries, Kelly’s stock continued to plummet as the draft approached. While some have viewed Denver’s selection of Kelly as a throwaway pick, some even suggest it was a favor to his legendary uncle Jim Kelly — of Buffalo Bills fame, the Bronco’s decision to save Kelly the embarrassment of going undrafted could pay off in a big way.
Consider NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein among those agreeing with that logic. In a recent NFL.com draft grade column, Zierlein selected Kelly as Denver’s best pick of the entire draft. He even suggested the former Ole Miss QB could play a role in the team’s ongoing competition under center.
Here’s what Zierlein had to say about Kelly and why he rates him as the Bronco’s best pick:
I’m putting Kelly into this slot because I think he has the ability to come in and add legitimate competition at the quarterback spot if he can keep his head on straight. He’s quite a lottery ticket for being the final pick of the draft.
Kelly is still recovering from two injuries — one to his hand and one to his lower body — so his outlook at the moment shouldn’t be too optimistic until he proves he can bounce back from those relatively minor setbacks. Provided he does successfully rehab and manages to hit the practice field for the Broncos this summer, how he reacts to the unstructured lifestyle of the NFL could very well prove to be Kelly’s greatest challenge moving forward.
If his draft weekend nightmare proves to be the necessary wake up call and helps Kelly gets his mind right moving forward, he could prove to be the most relevant Mr. Irrelevant in the history of the NFL draft.