Chad Kelly is a quarterback I would love to have more information on. A transfer from Clemson and “Last Chance U”, he was unable to attend the NFL Combine due to its new rule regarding arrests and violence. Additionally, he only played nine games in his final season due to injury. There are a lot of questions surrounding Kelly, but he should be a lot of fun to dive into.
What His Numbers Say
Here are Kelly’s career statistics courtesy of Sports Reference:
I also recorded his final year game log, including the rank of the opposing pass defense based on Football Outsiders S&P+:
Though he only managed to play against eight Division 1-A opponents in his final season, Kelly faced one of the tougher schedules studied. He went up against two of the top three defenses in S&P+, and five of the top 31.
Since 2000, there have been 23 quarterbacks to record a passer efficiency rating of at least 145, 700 rushing yards, and eight touchdowns (minimum 700 passes). Draft position for these signal callers is fairly spread out, with every round but one claiming at least two players.
Repeating a theme we have seen over the last few entries, the two most common outcomes were undrafted (30 percent) and first round (22 percent). Kelly falls well below the first round AYA average, but after that he could really fall anywhere based on the data. As a reference, CBS Sports has him as a seventh rounder.
Only four members of this cohort managed to become a QB1: Marcus Mariota, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Robert Griffin III. This group is made up of some impressive athletes, with an average 40-yard dash time of 4.54 and an average three-cone of 6.98 (RGIII did not participate).
While Kelly is considered to be a plus athlete, it is hard to know if he is quite at that level. Kelly tore his ACL for the second time during his senior season and did not run any of the drills at his Pro Day. When we combine that with off-the-field issues, Kelly seems like a tremendous gamble.
Player Comparison: Better Deshaun Watson?
I don’t usually compare players to other signal callers from the same class, but I think there is a real chance Kelly is the player everyone wants Deshaun Watson to be. Take a look at their junior seasons:
Watson was obviously used more as runner, but Kelly was more efficient as a passer. We didn’t get to see much growth from Kelly in his final year due to injury, but Watson also regressed. In terms of their physical attributes, Kelly is bigger, and almost certainly has a much better throwing arm than Watson (49 MPH). There are a lot more red flags with Kelly, but at an expected five or six round discount, I think you could argue that Kelly is the better value.
Ideal Landing Spot: Chiefs
Kansas City has already shown they’re willing to take a player with off-the-field issues after selecting Tyreek Hill a year ago. They have also been effusive in their praise of Alex Smith, despite him not being good enough to get them to the next level. I think there is a very good chance that they could look to upgrade at the quarterback spot. Kelly is an excellent way for them to bring in real competition for Smith without sounding the alarms to the media. Andy Reid is a quarterback genius, and could do for Kelly what he has already done for Smith, Donovan McNabb, and Michel Vick. That fit would give Kelly not only a chance to play in the future, but also a shot at being a QB1.
CURRENT 2QB FANTASY ROOKIE DRAFT PROJECTION: Third Round (Undrafted IN 1QB LEAGUES)
There may be a Kelly fanatic like fellow TwoQBs writer T.J. Calkins in your league, but chances are most people are not going to be terribly interested in a late-round quarterback. The rushing upside will make him draftable in 2QB formats, but he will most likely go untouched in single quarterback leagues.
Count me a member of the Kelly fan club. Even coming off of an ACL injury and carrying off-the-field baggage, his price is probably going to be discounted way too much. Kelly is the kind of player who will have to work his way up an NFL depth chart and stay out of trouble, but at low cost and clearly possessing massive amounts of talent, he is one of the better gambles you can make in 2QB leagues. He should be a cheap target for you everywhere.
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