With the NFL Draft less than a month away, Ole Miss players showcased their talents on pro day at the Manning Center.
Chad Kelly’s morning was cut unexpectedly short after the former Ole Miss quarterback re-aggravated a wrist injury during a passing drill.
“The whole week it felt good,” Kelly said. “Then I just threw one and turned my wrist over pretty hard, and it felt weird.”
After just more than a dozen scripted throws, Kelly decided not to push his injury any further. Monday marked the first time he had thrown the ball since coming off the field injured against Georgia Southern last season.
“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 said.
After transferring to Ole Miss as a junior in 2015, Kelly accumulated 6,800 passing yards and ran for more than 800 over two seasons in Oxford. Now, after declaring his intention to enter the NFL, Kelly’s wrist adds yet another questionable dimension to his already controversial draft stock.
Redshirted by Clemson in 2012, Kelly debuted as a Tiger in 2013 before the Clemson staff asked him to leave the team due to off-field conduct. He then transferred to East Mississippi Community College in 2014, where he led the Lions to a 12-0 record and National Junior College Championship. His performance caught the eye of Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who extended an offer to Kelly shortly thereafter.
Things were looking up for Kelly until early 2015, when he pled guilty to a non-criminal disorderly conduct charge following an altercation with a nightclub bouncer.
Earlier this year, the NFL decided not to extend Kelly, whose 8.4 yards per pass last season got him ranked second in the SEC, an invitation to the NFL Combine due to its policy of excluding student athletes with criminal records.
“Every decision and everything you do is going to be put in a microscope, and one bad thing can blow up like that,” Kelly said. “Of course they bring up the past, but you try to let them know you’re not the same person.”
Even so, it appears a number of NFL teams are still willing to take a gamble on Kelly, who led Ole Miss to a 48-20 Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma State in 2016.
“There’s a whole bunch (of interested teams). I’ve got some visits set up for later this week,” Kelly said. “You just never know. Depending on where I go, I really don’t care. I just want an opportunity to show what I can do.”
Throughout the morning, a number of other NFL hopefuls demonstrated their bench press, broad jump, vertical jump and 40-yard dash abilities in front of various professional scouts.
Of note, Quincy Adeboyejo improved his vertical jump 2.5 inches from the NFL Combine (now up to 37 inches), Derrick Jones hit a 41 inch vertical jump and 11 foot broad jump and Carlos Davis, weighing just 170 pounds, bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times.
Yet, Damore’ea Stringfellow, with his 17 bench press reps, 10-foot 10-inch broad jump, 38 inch vertical jump and 4.65 40 time, seemed to impress scouts most. The 6’2″ junior receiver, who began his career at the University of Washington, also did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine after pleading guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of third-degree malicious mischief that occurred in 2014, shortly before he transferred to Ole Miss.
Stringfellow, however, was locked in Monday morning.
“I don’t think anyone expected me to run a fast 40 (yard dash),” Stringfellow said. “I just came to show out and have fun.”
Evan Engram and Adeboyejo spent most of their pro day on the sidelines after impressing NFL teams at the Combine in Indianapolis earlier this year.
“I didn’t test at all. I was really pleased with my numbers in Indy, so I didn’t feel the need to work up and improve on anything,” Engram said. “It was kind of a chill day until that last session where we ran routes and stuff.”