It’s almost that time of year.
The nation’s top college football players will converge on Indianapolis where they will be poked, prodded, and over-analyzed by their future employers at the NFL Combine as teams continue their thorough preparation for the NFL Draft.
Two Arizona State standouts who will undergo that process soon were able to step away from the field for an afternoon, and meet the Sun Devil faithful in an autograph signing event Sunday. Quarterback Taylor Kelly and Jaelen Strong signed memorabilia, took photos, and met with fans at Dave and Buster’s in Tempe.
While Kelly and Strong created an undeniable chemistry on the field together, they seem to be in different places when it comes to the NFL Draft.
In multiple recent mock drafts, Strong was taken in the first round and is expected to be one of the first wide receivers off the board. The explosive receiver says he those projections are just that, and we won’t get ahead of himself.
“I don’t pay attention to that. I’ve seen guys predicted early plenty of times, and they go in the second or third round,” Strong said. “So I constantly work hard, competing against guys all over the country that want the same thing I want. I have to put in the time and effort to make my dreams come true.”
From early projections, it looks like there is a bit more in front of Kelly,. According to CBS Sports, he is the 19th rated quarterback and 392nd rated player in this year’s draft.
During the East-West Shrine Game, Kelly did perform well. He was leading passer and rusher for the West team.
Kelly, though, was the quarterback who many thought would be the third option in Todd Graham’s first year with the team. He cracked the starting lineup, and his name is now plastered throughout Arizona State’s record books. He’s trying to replicate that same process as he enters the pros.
“Right now, it’s a grind time. So you have to watch as much film as you can, train as hard as you can, and go out there and shine when you get called and do great when you get your number called,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s work seems to be helping his stock. During the East-West Shrine Game, Kelly performed very well, as he was leading passer and rusher for the West team.
He did say his mentor, former ASU great and fellow Idaho native, Jake Plummer and Kelly will try to meet over the next week as Plummer is in town for the upcoming Super Bowl.
“We’re going to just talk about life, football, how things are going,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous guy I look up to and one of my heroes.”
So what’s next for these two?
Both players will be under the microscope as they continue their private workouts, pro days, and participation in the NFL Combine before the NFL Draft, beginning on April 30th.