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Chad Kelly could be Broncos’ starting QB of the future, but now he’s Mr. Irrelevant

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Some are concerned about Kelly’s character, but he has the skills to thrive in the NFL.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Kelly has a new place to call home, as the Broncos selected Kelly with the very last pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The 23-year-old is a dual-threat quarterback who can make plays from anywhere on the field.

Denver should be excited about this pick because Kelly has the arm talent, poise, and athleticism to be a solid quarterback a the next level. He’s not a Day 1 starter, but he can transform into an NFL-caliber signal caller with proper coaching.

While Kelly is a talented player, some people question his character. He committed to Clemson in 2012 and redshirted his first year. In 2013, he played in five games. However, in 2014, Clemson kicked the then-20-year-old signal caller off the team due to “detrimental conduct.”

Then, Kelly transferred to East Mississippi Community College. He threw for 3,906 yards to go along with 47 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He led East Mississippi to a 12-0 record, which led to a NJCAA National Football Championship.

Kelly transferred to the University of Mississippi after one season at East Mississippi and was named the starting quarterback for the 2015 season. During his two-year stint with Mississippi, the 23-year-old threw for 6,800 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions.

Why did the Broncos draft Kelly?

Uses legs to gain yards

Kelly has the athleticism and speed to make defenses pay. For example, in a 45-14 victory over Georgia, he raced past two defenders along the way to a 41-yard touchdown scamper.

The Mississippi product took the snap, faked the handoff on the zone-read, immediately tucked the ball, and started running. He found a huge rushing lane and outran two defenders for the long run. Kelly ran for 53 yards and a touchdown.

No, Kelly isn't as fast as the other quarterbacks in this draft, but he has sneaky speed that he could utilize at the next level.

Arm talent and accuracy

The 23-year-old quarterback can read defenses and throw deep passes with accuracy. He isn't afraid to challenge double coverages.

In 2016, with a 14-7 lead against Memphis early in the second quarter, Kelly threw a 39-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram near the sidelines. Two defenders were in the vicinity to make play on the ball, but Kelly had enough confidence in his arm to attempt that throw.

Coaches love quarterbacks who have a lot of confidence in their arm. In fact, Kelly’s uncle, former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly, said his nephew has a “very special arm.”


Kelly has the potential to become an NFL starter, but scouts are concerned about his character. He has to learn quickly that teams will not deal with players who do not carry themselves properly on and off the field.

Also, Kelly is used to working out of the pistol and shotgun formations. He must get use to taking snaps under center because not every play will be in those two formations.

Lastly, he needs to be more consistent with his accuracy, especially on deep passes. When Kelly throws deep touch passes, he has the tendency to underthrow his targets.

The weird history of Mr. Irrelevant