Former Ole Miss quarterback and school record-holder Chad Kelly was not invited to the 2017 NFL Combine because of “off-field issues,” a league source told Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. The scoop comes as a hit to Kelly’s draft stock, which was already in a sort of limbo after his season-ending knee injury.
Miller’s league source cites “off-field issues” as the prime reason for passing up on Kelly working out in Indianapolis, a constant and dubious bugaboo that ruined another Ole Miss alum’s draft stock, Laremy Tunsil, just last year. Before that, even, former defensive end Robert Nkemdiche went flying out of an Atlanta hotel window, which further raised league personnel’s eyebrows about his judgment. Both went in the first round, sure, but both missed out on millions of dollars because of “off-field issues.”
It seems that Kelly’s history of being dismissed from Clemson, allegedly being involved in an altercation with a bar bouncer, running onto the field during a high school football skirmish, and being photographed while rolling a joint has soured his image in the eyes of many NFL scouts. His penchant for drawing stupid headlines, in the context of the NFL Draft’s weird grindhouse, has now apparently barred him from the most important job interview of his life.
This sort of off-field issues refrain is of course quite commonplace in NFL Draft discussions, but in a draft class studded with thinning talent at QB, one would think that owners and scouts should like to see as many prospects as possible. Furthermore, Miller’s report makes an utterly disconnected fool of Bill Pollian, who apparently chirped his praises about Kelly on ESPN’s Mike and Mike this morning:
Per Bill Polian on @MikeAndMike "Chad Kelly is the best quarterback in the draft"— Kim Shanahan (@KimShanfan) February 15, 2017
That’s certainly surprising, insofar as this draft class includes Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who, y’know, actually finished out his last season with the Tigers to the tune of an impressive national championship title. Kelly hasn’t played a lick of football since Nov. 5, 2016, when he shredded his knee in a throwaway game against Georgia Southern.
So it’ll be up to Kelly at an Ole Miss-hosted pro day to demonstrate his skills and health to league scouts, a not altogether bad situation in any case. Still, those lingering off-field issues will undoubtedly knock him late into NFL Draft weekend, if he even gets picked at all.