The Denver Broncos did not draft a quarterback this year, but could Chad Kelly be the quarterback of the future?
The Denver Broncos were in good position to draft a quarterback this year with the No. 5 overall pick, but they instead went with defensive end Bradley Chubb. That means 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch still has a chance to be the quarterback of the future, with Case Keenum now in place as Denver’s starter on a two-year deal in free agency.
Just prior to insisting Lynch has not been given up on by the organization, Broncos general manager John Elway said Lynch and Chad Kelly will compete for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, was 2017′ s “Mr. Irrelevant” (pick No. 253), but his recovery from a torn right ACL during his senior season at Ole Miss and surgery on his right wrist cost him all of last season.
If not for that knee injury, Kelly likely would have been no worse than a Day 2 pick in the 2017 draft. He was un-invited from the NFL Combine due to a past off-field issue, then aggravated a wrist injury at his Pro Day. He was originally recruited to Clemson, but was dismissed from the program and went the JUCO route before landing at Ole Miss. Injuries and off-field baggage almost left Kelly undrafted, but when healthy in college, he showed an NFL skill set.
In 2015, Kelly led the SEC in passing yards (4,042) and touchdowns (31), while also adding 509 rushing yards and 10 more touchdowns on the ground as the Rebels went 10-3 with wins over Alabama, Auburn and LSU. He was off to a solid start in 2016, with 2,758 passing yards and 24 total touchdowns (19 passing), before being injured against Georgia Southern on Nov. 5 that year.
It’s very early, but Kelly being put on equal footing in a competition with Lynch to be Keenum’s backup is interesting. Barring injury, or incredibly poor play, Keenum is Denver’s starter this year and probably next. But as a decision on a fifth-year option for Lynch comes next offseason, Kelly can start his case to be the quarterback of the future with a strong showing between now and Week 1.