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Yep, NFL draft prospect Chad Kelly is Jim Kelly’s QB nephew

The Ole Miss alum has good genes.

chad jim kelly Getty

Chad Kelly won’t be an early pick in the NFL draft. Most evaluators rate the former Ole Miss quarterback as around the 10th-best player at his position, he’s dealing with injury, and he had his NFL Combine invitation rescinded, likely for earlier off-field transgressions.

But if you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic about Kelly, you don’t need to look much further than bloodlines. He’s a nephew of Hall of Fame Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, a universally loved figure who brought the Bills to four Super Bowl appearances and beat cancer in his post-playing career.

Chad’s father, Kevin, is Jim’s younger brother. Chad’s younger brother, Casey, is also a quarterback. (Chad once ran onto the field during one of Casey’s high school games after a heavy hit on his brother, in an incident that went viral.)

The nephew’s QB talent has never been in doubt.

Kelly was one of college football’s better QBs in 2015, his first season at Ole Miss: 8.8 yards per throw, 31 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, and a 156 efficiency rating. He beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa that year, something that simply isn’t done.

He was a great runner. He was good at reading defenses, sometimes fooling them completely, and flicking an easy deep ball. From last season against Bama:

chad kelly

Jim Kelly spoke at some length about his nephew in an Associated Press article in 2015. He said his nephew had a “very special arm.”

At that point, Chad was just getting his bearings as the starting quarterback, after leaving Clemson and spending a year in the Last Chance U junior college. Kelly’s issues before Ole Miss weren’t about talent, but about behavior.

"Sometimes kids think they know it all," Jim Kelly said then. "Chad's like a lot of other kids. Sometimes your mom, dad or uncle have advice and you think you know better. It's part of maturing -- how much do you really want this?”

Chad Kelly got into legal trouble before he landed in Oxford. He reportedly fought with bouncers and police officers in Buffalo in late 2014. The Buffalo News said Kelly was accused — though it wasn’t clear by whom — of telling bouncers, “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place.”

Kelly later took a non-criminal plea deal and agreed to community service. He didn’t get into any similar trouble during his two seasons at Ole Miss.

And at the highlight of Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze era, when the Rebels won the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2015 season, Jim sat in the Superdome in New Orleans to watch — way, way up in the nosebleeds.


Chad says he draws from his uncle, but not just his uncle.

“My dad is the one who, since I was 8 years old, was out at a park with me every single day for 365 days,” Chad said last summer, the Clarion Ledger reported. “He never missed a day, and he was out there with me, whether it was 8 o’clock at night or 8 o’clock in the morning. He was always there trying to help me get better.”

But Chad and Jim speak often, he said then, and it sounds like the nephew found a lot of strength in his uncle’s bout with cancer.

“Definitely inspired me to be great and to lead and to be a fighter and never give up,” Chad said. “He’s my uncle, he’s another extension of me. I’m thankful that I have an uncle like that that can help me out on the field and off the field.”

Chad appears to have picked up a love of the Bills from his uncle.

These tweets are from long ago, but loyalty is born early.

The modern NFL isn’t much for symbolism. The Bills will only draft Kelly if they think he’s a good value pick and a good fit. But if Chad followed in Jim’s footsteps and made his way to Western New York, it would be one of football’s coolest circle stories in a long time.