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2017 New Orleans Saints Draft Targets: Chad Kelly

The last Ole Miss QB drafted by the Saints worked out OK.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We’re continuing our series that will focus on some prospective targets that could be on the New Orleans Saints draft board at the end of the month. The potential targets could be found anywhere in the draft, and there’s no set order in which they will come out. The focus is to bring attention to where they can help the Saints most heading into 2017. Some will make more sense than others.

We’ve already gone into how the Saints shouldn’t spend a mid-round pick on a Quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft. Ole Miss’s Chad Kelly is far from a mid-round pick projections, though. He could wind up on the Saints in the sixth or seventh rounds, or possible even sign as an undrafted free agent.

Measurables & Combine Results

  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Weight: 224 pounds

Did not participate in the NFL Combine

Pro Comparisons: Tony Romo (Cowboys), Jay Cutler (Bears), Johnny Manziel (Browns)

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

How He Could Help the Saints

Chad Kelly, also known by the Ole Miss faithful as “Swaggy C,” is the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly. Kelly is known for his arm strength and big, physical frame. He can hit all of the throws, from short, quick slants to long, down-field bombs. He also can tuck the ball and run for short yardage gains if he needs to scramble out of the pocket or extend plays.

Kelly puts a lot of faith in his arm and is not afraid to make back-shoulder passes or to zip passes down the field into a short window.

At the same time, Kelly can trust his arm too much, making throws he should otherwise move on from in making his reads. He can force throws, especially in late down-and-distance situations, and some times can fail to see Safeties sliding over to his receiver’s side of the field. He’s also the type of quarterback (similar to current Saints starter Drew Brees) who believes he can fit the ball out of the reach of a defender, when that’s not always the result.

All things equal, Kelly looked like a potential 3rd-4th round pick a team in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he has major off-the-field character concerns that have sent him tumbling down NFL draft boards. For the Saints, he would make a good low-risk, high-reward type of project QB that could come in and learn behind the most accurate QB in NFL history. With Drew’s squeaky clean character history (minus a poor financial investment here and there) off the field, he could be a great mentor for Swaggy C to learn what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, both on and off the field.


If Kelly finds himself undrafted in the last two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, it wouldn’t hurt for the Saints to take a flier on the talented passer. Like the free agent rumbling surrounding Johnny Manziel, there are concerns about a spotlight-hungry QB with questionable character making his home in a city like New Orleans, but Swaggy C would cost the Saints a lot less than the first round pick the Browns paid for Johnny Football.

Tony Romo in his prime is a fair ceiling for Kelly, but if he is unable to harness his off-the-field issues, like Money Manziel, he could find himself out of pro football in relatively short order.