Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rick Cleveland opines on the draft.

As the last choice of the NFL Draft, Chad Kelly will spend the next year being called “Mr. Irrelevant.”

But it says here Kelly possesses the arm strength, athleticism and toughness to become relevant, indeed, in the NFL.

Kelly, at the end of his junior season and in the Sugar Bowl that came later, was playing the position of quarterback as well as anyone in college football. Clearly, he has the physical tools to succeed in “the league.”

We'll just have to wait and see if he can develop the discipline.

Obviously, John Elway, who knows a thing or two about pro football quarterbacks, believed it was worth the rather slight risk of using the 253rd – and last – pick of the draft to choose Kelly for the Denver Broncos. At the end of the 2015 season, Kelly was doing a pretty darned good Elway imitation, throwing accurate fastballs and taking off and running when nothing else was available.

Important to remember about Kelly: He became the first Ole Miss quarterback – ever! – to lead the Rebels to victories over Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season and then he topped that season off by earning MVP honors in the Sugar Bowl.

Yes, he has had off-the-field problems, two knee surgeries and now a wrist surgery. But anybody who can quarterback his team to victory over Alabama's defense, at Tuscaloosa, has the ability to play in the league and surely is worth a 7th round draft pick. To refresh memories, Kelly threw for three touchdowns, ran for one and did not commit a turnover in a 43-37 victory over Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 2015. How many quarterbacks can say they did that?

No doubt, several teams hoping Kelly would fall out of the draft all together were disappointed when the Broncos called his name. I thought the Saints might take him with their sixth round pick. Didn't happen. The Broncos undoubtedly were happy about that.


Some other observations about the draft:

• Color me surprised that Mississippi State's Fred Ross wasn't chosen by anyone. Yes, Ross, who has signed a free agent contract with Carolina, dropped some balls. No, he doesn't have the break-away speed NFL coaches covet. But he makes plays. He is Mississippi State's all-time leading receiver, two times a consensus All-SEC pick. What's more, he doubles as a productive kick returner. The Panthers got a steal.

• The SEC can brag about its draft numbers. Between the first pick Texas A & M defensive end Myles Garrett and the last pick Kelly, the SEC had 51 other players chosen, by far the most of any conference. The SEC's 53 draftees were 11 more than the second place ACC. Perhaps most eye-popping of all, the Big 12, which once produced pros at a pace similar to the SEC, had only 14 players drafted. Only five Big 12 players were taken in the first three rounds. By comparison, Conference USA had six players taken in the first three rounds. The SEC had 21 players in the first two rounds alone, indeed 21 of the first 63 players chosen.

• Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram, as expected, was the first Mississippi player taken in the draft, going in the first round to the New York Giants. Engram will do something in New York he has often done in the off-season at Ole Miss. That is, catch passes from Eli Manning.

As he was at Ole Miss, Engram will be a matchup nightmare in the NFL where linebackers and strong safeties are often matched up in one-on-one coverage with tight ends. Not many strong safeties or linebackers can match Engram's 4.43 speed and athleticism. Archie Manning said Sunday his youngest son is thrilled with the Giants' pick of Engram.

Engram's physical skills are obvious, the elder Manning said, adding, “Evan's a great kid and a hard worker.”

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated sports columnist. His email address is


Anonymous said...

Something Cleveland omitted: Kelly is culturally confused white trash who has repeatedly embarrassed himself and whichever team he's been associated with.

Someone list one example of his showing any remorse or repentance.

He's garbage.

Anonymous said...

Just thankful he did't beat a woman in the face while she was laying on the ground. Cause that would have meant that he played for State College (with a one game suspension of course).

StarRider said...

People can grow up and change, he has a chance that not many get to do that right now. I'd have taken a chance on him in the draft too, if he can get by his personal issues he definitely has the physical tools to play in the NFL, he absolutely torched the best defense in college football twice.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a dog in the OM/State fight.


Screamed at his Clemson coaches during the 2nd half of the spring game.

Got kicked off the team at Clemson.

After signing at OM but before reporting, he was arrested in Buffalo for (a) fighting bouncers because they wouldn't let his friend back in; and (b) threatening to "get my AK-47 and spray this place."

Ran out of the stands and onto the field of a HS game -- while knowing he was under heightened scrutiny -- acting like a street thug.

Allowed a picture of himself smoking weed to be circulated on the internet.

Class individual. And if you listen to him speak, it's as if he wishes he were black.

Gar. Bage.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Manziel Light. He'll be out of the League soon.

Anonymous said...

11:37 - for someone without a "dawg" in the hunt, you sure as hell have a lot of details on ol' Chad. are you a secret admirer? XXXXXOO to chad from 11:37

Anonymous said...

Only appropriate that Mr. Irrelevant come from a team that is soon to match the moniker. Beyond that, 11:37 points out the obvious. Kelly certainly has the athletic skills to play at some point, but he has shown that his silver spoon upbringing has screwed with those points in ones head that keeps it on straight. Watch for him to live up to his Irrelevant name before he ever gets to prove his skills at this level.

Anonymous said...

11:37 - for someone without a "dawg" in the hunt, you sure as hell have a lot of details on ol' Chad. are you a secret admirer? XXXXXOO to chad from 11:37

I am a graduate of an SEC school not located in Mississippi, and not named Alabama.

Yep, got me a man-crush on a wigger.

Or, maybe I read this article a couple hours ago after it was posted on SB Nation.

Maybe the writers at SB Nation are secret admirers, too.

Anonymous said...

"People" love to hate on Chad. They better hope he turns out to be another Manziel or there will lots of crow pie served up. I think and hope he catches on.

Anonymous said...

1:12 - impressed that you actually graduated. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the amount of people who will actually take the time to research the past transgressions of another (which is the only way they could possibly know so much if they haven't been keeping up as they say) and then take more time to post what can only be interpreted as hoping for the downfall of another. It's one thing to doubt, but it's quite obvious there are many who hope and wish Kelly fails. Some things I just don't understand.

Jackie's Bull Balls said...

Perhaps he can influence Elway to find a spot in the laundry room for Freeze. He knows those second-spin-cycle machines inside out. Come to think of it, Archie probably has some pull too.

Anonymous said...

The kid has made some dumb mistakes, like most of us in college. Fortunately my college days were before someone could post a photo of you doing something dumb on social media. If he has the skills to compete, he'll be fine. Surely seeing his stock fall so far has been humbling.

Anonymous said...

Pot may be legal in Colorado, but it's not in the NFL. This guy in Denver won't end well. He can join Marshall Henderson on the UMiss white trash bin of history.

Anonymous said...

I'm just thankful that cow college players never get in trouble (or prison) and help provide a positive image for Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

In many respects Kelly is more of a gunslinger like John Elway was than Paxton Lynch. If he earns a chance to play he could actually do something with it.

Main difference though was John Elway usually had an actual running game to lean on.

Anonymous said...

No 5:19, that's not the question. There are certainly several MSU players that have gotten into trouble. But we don't crow and crow about wondering "if" and/or "when" they get drafted because they are so deserving. And our coach doesn't take the scum that get kicked off other teams for their transgressions and using the Jackson pothole scheme hope we can "pray them away" in a rehabilitation football program.

MSU player transgressions are not of the kind that become feature programs not just on social media but also in the sports media. You have to admit that Chad has certainly become a media star with his on AND his off field activities. Has only been exceeded by Tunsil.

Anonymous said...

His strut and arrogance were top-tier in the past. God only knows what they will be now.

Anonymous said...

A 300 pounder bearing a woman on her back on the ground certainly made the media rounds as best as I can remember. But, Coach Mullins being the strict disciplinarian that he is hit him hard with a one game suspension. Just saying don't throw cow shit from your glass house.

Anonymous said...

I am not an OM fan. I am not a state fan. Or any other program. I love the game. I played 4 years college ball. First, we better listen to Rick. The man knows what he is talking about when it comes to football. Second, you guys need to quit hating on each other in ugly ways. Third, nobody posting here has been personally hurt by the kid. Bad decisions. Yes. Should he be crucified? No. Give him a chance and wish him well. Last, the NFL system as a whole is jaded. J. Winston raped a women. FSU, the state of FL and NCAA (title 9)tried to cover for him. He was not uninvited to anything. And he got a good draft. And he is having a decent career. Hopefully has grown up. Good for him. Just saying. Double standard.

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