After excellent performances in collegiate all-star games, Cole Kelley has received some draft hype. Most recently, he won the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Most Valuable Player award. Kelley went 12-17 with 150 yards and a touchdown in the game. Entering college, he was ranked as a three-star recruit and started at Arkansas. After two years and an arrest, he transferred to Southeastern Louisiana, where he hit his stride. Last season, he threw for 5,124 yards and 44 touchdowns with a 73.6 percent completion rate.
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Name: Cole Kelley
Jersey: No. 15
School: Southeastern Louisiana
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 248 lbs
Games Watched: Louisiana Tech (2021), James Madison (2021), NFLPA Collegiate Bowl (2022)
Significant Injury History: None
Arm Talent (13.5/15)
Kelley has decent arm strength. Most of his power comes from his massive frame. Kelley is 6’7”, which allows him to get a lot of force behind his passes. He can stand tall in the pocket while pressure surrounds him and still make an accurate throw. When Kelley is forced to move around and throw from a tough angle or with poor footwork, he can still throw with good speed.
Kelley’s stats say that he is a very accurate passer, which is different from his tape. He completed 73.6 percent of his passes last year, but there are certain areas where he can be inconsistent. While Kelley can hit open receivers with good placement, he also struggles at times against pressure. He flashed the ability to make off-platform throws, but his accuracy can suffer when he does not have time. On deep passes, he is primarily accurate and can complete them relatively consistently. However, overall, Kelley is accurate.
Decision Making (7.5/15)
Decision-making is an area of improvement for Kelley. He is good at seeing the field and can anticipate which receivers will be open, but his decisions are inconsistent. The biggest issue for Kelley is his ability to read pressure. Before the snap, sometimes he does not pick up blitzes and make a poor decision when he is rushed. Kelley needs to read the field so that his decision-making can improve.
Going through progressions is an admirable trait for Kelley. When his protection is well, he can move through his reads well. Kelley does a satisfactory job of reading coverage and moving to the following receiver if his initial target is not open. He struggles regarding progressions when he is pressured. Although scanning the field is difficult when pressured, Kelley makes last-second decisions that are not always great when he is.
Pocket Awareness (6/10)
Pocket awareness is a hit or miss for Kelley. While he flashes the ability to read when the pocket collapses and escapes, he is inconsistent. Kelley is pretty mobile, so he can rush up the middle if he sees an opening on the line with no receivers open. However, his pocket awareness is not great when he fails to pick up a blitz before the snap. Kelley’s pocket awareness looked good against higher-level talent at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, but the trait is a bit of a question mark for him.
Kelley’s timing and touch can use some work but are not awful traits. Since he does an excellent job of scanning the field and has a solid understanding of how a play will unfold in the defensive backfield, he can anticipate when a receiver will get open. Kelley’s somewhat slow release hurts him a bit with timing as it can be difficult to time passes when the ball takes a while to get out. His touch looks good on deep passes, but he can refine it moving forward.
Out of Structure (7/10)
When a play breaks down, Kelley can still pick up yards. He is pretty mobile and scrambles and grabs extra yards. Kelley’s height allows him not to drift out of the pocket much. However, he does a solid job when forced to throw on the run. One of the most impressive passes Kelley can make is a shovel pass. Although a shovel pass seems simple, he is effective and has an excellent bonus ability.
Mobility is a good trait for Kelley. While he is big and strong, he is not prototypical. Kelley does not always stand tall in the pocket and shrugs off sacks. Instead, Kelley puts the ball on the ground and runs when he senses pressure. Although he can stand in the pocket and deliver a strike under pressure, he often runs before taking on the pressure.
Kelley’s mechanics are not great and can limit him. First off, his release takes a while to get off, which makes other areas of his game less compelling. While he can read the field well, his slow release can cost him by messing up his timing. Kelley’s release point is slow, which does not allow him to use his tall height fully. He should look to speed up his mechanics to catch up to NFL speed.
Kelley will turn some eyes because of his tall frame and success in college. At Southeastern Lousiana, he was excellent and flashed upside with his mobility and a strong arm. Kelley has also been successful against the higher-level competition in the collegiate all-star games he played. The most significant area of concern with him is his slow release. Whether Kelley is drafted or not, he will probably sign with an NFL team because of his potential and recent success.
Rookie Projections: Third String
Third Year Projections: Out of the NFL
Final Grade (67.5/100): Sixth Round
Player Comp: Nate Sudfeld
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