Saints: Cole Kelley presents an intriguing late-round QB prospect

Kristen Wong
Cole Kelley #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Cole Kelley #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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No quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft wows like Trevor Lawrence did, or even Justin Fields and Trey Lance for that matter. If the New Orleans Saints want to wait to find a prospect in the later rounds, they could select home-grown star Cole Kelley.

No guarantee comes with late-round quarterbacks. Some, like Tom Brady, turn out to be uncut diamonds in the rough, while others, like Ian Book, are composed entirely of industrial brass, and their glimmer slowly fades with each passing season.

Southeastern prospect Cole Kelly could very well become an Ian Book-type within a year, but there’s plenty of intrigue in his draft profile that makes him a worthwhile consideration.

After six years and two schools, Kelley has finally reached the podium, and he represents one of 15 quarterbacks competing in the NFL Combine.

Born in Lafayette, Louisiana, Kelley played high school football at Teurlings Catholic and went on to join the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Southeastern Conference. Redshirted as a freshman, he played two decent seasons there before deciding to transfer closer to home to Southeastern Louisiana.

Currently in his third season at Southeastern, Kelley has developed into an impressive quarterback with the physical traits to succeed at the NFL level.

New Orleans Saints should keep an eye on Southeastern’s Cole Kelley in 2022 draft

At 24 years old, Kelley’s age will be considered a detriment to QB-needy teams, but a perhaps more favorable number is his height. His 6-foot-7 frame makes him taller than most, and despite his looming size, he has still retained the skills and coordination to compete with the best.

In his final season at Southeastern, Kelley threw for 5,124 yards and 44 touchdowns in 13 games while averaging a 73.6 pass completion rate. Kelley also showed his dual-threat potential as a runner, adding 491 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns that year. He led the FCS in passing yards, total offense and completion percentage, and set a new record with his career pass completion percentage (72.1 percent).

Kelley’s journey to the NFL Draft may have been more long-winded than others, but his physical abilities and football acumen could prove useful if groomed in the right system. NOLA’s offense will hopefully feature Jameis Winston under center for 2022, and in truth Kelley would spend more time warming the bench than throwing the ball for the first couple of seasons.

Yet the numbers at least are there, and Kelley’s ability to persevere may be the most important quality of all for young NFL quarterback hopefuls.

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Plus, Kelley even has a tattoo dedicated to his hometown of Lafayette. The tough New Orleans’ spirit that runs through his veins could see him play for the black and gold in a few patient years’ time.

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