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Broncos GM Elway called Jim Kelly before drafting nephew

By Alex Butler
Broncos GM Elway called Jim Kelly before drafting nephew
Former Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) was the final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. File photo by Veronica Dominach/UPI | License Photo

April 30 (UPI) -- Chad Kelly had "no clue" that the Denver Broncos would draft him, but coach Vance Joseph wanted him for a while.

And Broncos general manager John Elway did his due diligence, with the help of a good friend.

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Before taking the University of Mississippi quarterback with the 253rd and final pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Elway called Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Kelly is Chad's uncle.

"I called his uncle, and he said he's a good kid," Elway told reporters. "I said, 'OK. That's all I need.' I trust Jim with that. I think that obviously there's been some history there, but we felt comfortable that Chad understands what he's been through and is ready to take this step and realizes the step that he's taking. It's got to be a little bit different than it was when he was in college."

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Kelly was kicked off the team at Clemson in 2014 for "detrimental conduct." In 2015 he was in a fight outside of a Buffalo nightclub. He later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. He also went onto a field during his brother's high school game last year when a fight broke out.

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"We're fully confident that Chad is going to be able to come up here and understand the situation that he's in. The one thing about him is he's a great competitor. I think that's why we're really excited about him. He makes a lot of plays and takes some chances, but he's a great competitor and he's got great lineage. I did talk to Jim today, and obviously Jim was very high on him, as we were. We're thrilled that he was still there. I didn't think he'd get there through 253, but we were happy he did."

Kelly passed for 6,800 yards and 50 scores in two seasons with the Rebels. He also had some injury concerns heading into the draft. Kelly had wrist surgery in April and had a torn ACL in November. He was expected to begin throwing again in July.

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"He was my favorite quarterback in the draft," Broncos first-year coach Vance Joseph told reporters. "He beat Alabama twice. That's tough to do as a college quarterback. He's a tough guy. He's smart. He's make some childish mistakes in the past, but he's learned from those things, so I'm comfortable with him."

Elway said the July timeline for his return might be a little early.

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"Well, he's got the thumb, so we think it's going to be August," Elway said. "He's an August-September guy, too, so we realize it's going to take him some time to get healthy. We're in the process, we'll bring another arm in until Chad is ready to go."

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The Broncos already have a quarterback battle heading into camp with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch topping its depth chart. Kelly is expected to be a depth option this season.

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