After a disappointing senior season that ended prematurely with an ACL tear late in the game against Georgia Southern, Chad Kelly received a bit of good news Monday afternoon with the announcement of his bid to attend the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl festivities:
Kelly joins Evan Engram as the two Ole Miss representatives at the Senior Bowl, an annual showcase of top collegiate seniors from all over the country. The game is scheduled to take place on Jan. 28, 2017 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Birmingham, Ala. and will be broadcast on NFL Network beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT.
Two years ago, Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt played in the showcase, and in 2004 Eli Manning was invited but elected not to play.
Of course, Kelly won’t have the opportunity to show off his rocket arm and quick feet for scouts, as he’ll still be rehabbing in preparation for the NFL Draft. The Senior Bowl committee had already extended an invitation before Kelly went down for the year. Still, the invitation serves as a well deserved nod of recognition to Kelly’s stellar collegiate career as the Rebels’ signal-caller.
It’s easy to forget amidst the late-season struggles, but it was just one year ago that Chad rewrote Ole Miss’ single-season record books. In 2015, Kelly broke or tied 14 Ole Miss single-season records including total yards (4,542), passing yards (4,042), passing TDs (31), and touchdowns responsible for (41). Although his accuracy and decision-making appeared to suffer slightly during the 2016 season, he was still at or near the top of all SEC passing rankings at the time of his injury.
The recognition may also serve as a boon to Chad’s draft stock, if for no other reason than it generating some buzz around his name that might have been lost since his injury. Prior to the ACL tear, Kelly had been projected as a potential 2nd-round pick and top-5 QB. However, CBSSports currently has him going in the 3rd or 4th round as the 7th quarterback off the board. If he can nab the attention of NFL scouts, his statistics against SEC competition and NFL-level arm strength might entice a few teams to consider him in the 2nd round.
Regardless of where he ends up, Rebel fans will certainly be watching NFL Draft weekend. The NFL could use a little more Swag.