Forty-eight scouts from 31 NFL teams descended on the Manning Center Monday morning to get a look at Kelly and his fellow draft-eligible Rebels. While Kelly didn’t run a 40-yard dash or record a vertical jump, he went through passing drills … for a few minutes.
Kelly hurt the wrist of his throwing arm early in the session. Fortunately for Kelly, the injury appears minor. He’ll throw again for scouts at the Manning Center April 22.
“They just said a sprained wrist,” he said. “It happened earlier – last week. I tried pushing through it this whole week and it felt good. And then I just kind of threw one, turning my wrist over pretty hard and it felt weird. And then I threw one in the flat, and it just didn’t feel the same. The guys decided to call it quits for the day and hopefully come back in a week or two and see how it is.”
Kelly suffered a season-ending knee injury against Georgia Southern in November. He’s been sidelined pretty much ever since, and the weeks and months that have followed have brought, seemingly, nothing but bad news.
From an October video showing Kelly storming the high school field of his brother, to his Clemson past and an unfortunate photo, Kelly has weathered a public relations storm, of sorts. Kelly even saw his NFL Combine invitation rescinded due to his off-the-field issues.
“You know, not only Clemson, but even in high school it still follows me,” Kelly said of the off-the-field stuff. “Every decision and everything you do is going to be put in a microscope. One bad thing can blow up just like that. I’ve just got to be smart with everything I do and of course the past is going to come up.”
Kelly said he never got an explanation as to why his NFL Combine invite was rescinded.
“It gave me an extra week to work out in Pensacola, Florida,” he said, “so I wasn’t too worried about that. I was just trying to come out here today and show what I could do.”
Monday was his first real opportunity to put his best foot forward and show why he was so highly thought of entering his senior season at Ole Miss.
Kelly accounted for an SEC-high 3,090 yards of offense in 2016. In his first season, he earned All-SEC second-team honors after breaking or tying 14 Ole Miss single-season records, including total yards (4,542), passing yards (4,042), passing touchdowns (31), touchdowns responsible for (41) and 300-yard passing games (eight).
Kelly is currently projected to be a day-three selection, meaning rounds 4-7. But where he goes is less important than if he can stay on the field at all, as well as if he can put some more film on his resume for NFL talent evaluators.
Because he can’t do anything about his past. All he can control is how he plays. But he’s got to play. His wrist wouldn’t let him Monday.
“Of course they bring up the past, but you try to let them know you’re not the same person,” Kelly said. “I just had my 23rd birthday last week. You’ve got to be a more mature person. Me and my brother talk all the time. He had kids two weeks ago trying to fight him, like 10 of them, talking crap about me and he was more mature to walk away from that situation and not get involved. If my 16-year-old brother is able to walk from situations, I should be able to if I’m 23.”