John Elway and Jim Kelly were both first-round picks in the 1983 NFL Draft and they reconnected during this year’s draft, although it was much later in the process.
Elway called Kelly as part of his role as the Broncos General Manager in order to ask Kelly about his nephew Chad, who dealt with off-field issues and injuries during a college career that also featured some strong quarterback play at Ole Miss. The younger Kelly got a plug from his uncle that helped Elway decide to use the final pick of the 2017 draft on the quarterback.
“I called his uncle, and he said, ‘He’s a good kid,'” Elway said, via ESPN.com. “I said, ‘OK, that’s all I need.’ I trust Jim with that. Obviously, there’s been some history there, but we felt comfortable. Chad understands what he’s been through and is ready to take this step and realizes the step that he’s taken is different than when he was in college. We’re full of confidence that Chad’s going to be able to come up here and understand the situation he’s in.”
Elway said the vetting process went beyond talking to Uncle Jim and coach Vance Joseph said he’s confident that Kelly has learned from past “childish mistakes.”
A different review may have pushed the Broncos in a different direction, which would have left Kelly to weigh offers to sign as an undrafted free agent. That could have led to better odds of making a 53-man roster, although Joseph also said Kelly was his favorite quarterback in this year’s draft so Denver might have been the best spot under any circumstances.