Since the 1976 NFL Draft, the last pick in each year’s draft has been given the title of Mr. Irrelevant. With 45 players having officially given been given the Mr. Irrelevant title and another 39 unofficially holding that title, what is the history behind the name, and what does it mean to be crowned Mr. Irrelevant as the final selection of the NFL Draft?
Desjuan Johnson, a DE from Toledo, was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the last pick in this past year’s draft to become Mr. Irrelevant. Johnson made the Rams roster to start the season but has been inactive for the first two weeks.
The Origin of Mr. Irrelevant in the NFL Draft
In 1976, former USC and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Paul Salata began a series of events that were titled “Irrelevant Week.” The week involved the player given the title of Mr. Irrelevant being invited to Newport Beach, California.
That first Irrelevant Week began the tradition of awarding the final selection in the draft of the Mr. Irrelevant title. Salata was given the honor of announcing the last pick of the NFL Draft, which he continued to do until 2013. His daughter took over in 2014 and has continued the tradition since then.
The publicity surrounding the last pick of the draft grew to such a point that it led to teams making an effort to acquire that selection. Additionally, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle’s actions spurred the creation of the “Salata Rule,” which prohibits teams from passing in order to acquire the final pick of the NFL Draft.
Who Are the Most Notable Mr. Irrelevants in NFL Draft History?
Prior to the NFL Draft being reduced to seven rounds in 1994, Mr. Irrelevant often would struggle to make NFL rosters. Since then, the chance of Mr. Irrelevant making it onto an NFL roster has increased significantly, which makes sense given the greater concentration of talent selected each year.
In the past 47 years, a handful of players have far exceeded expectations after being selected as the final pick of the NFL Draft.
Brock Purdy, Quarterback
In 2022, former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy did something no other Mr. Irrelevant had done before: Start a playoff game as a rookie.
Since 1994, when the draft officially moved to seven rounds, there have only been six seventh-round signal-callers to even appear in playoff games. But none, at that point, had done so as rookies.
Purdy, who started the year as the third-string QB on the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, was thrust into the starting role due to injuries to both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. In his first appearance in Week 13, Purdy led his team to a 33-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins. During that game, he became the first Mr. Irrelevant to throw a touchdown pass.
Ryan Succop, Kicker
Super Bowl LV saw a monumental landmark for Mr. Irrelevant, as it was the first time a player who has received the title both played in and won a Super Bowl. Ryan Succop, the final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, kicked four extra points and a field goal as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 31-9.
In an intriguing twist of fate, Succop would help the Buccaneers defeat the team that originally selected him back in 2009, the Kansas City Chiefs. Also interestingly, the player taken just before Succop was TE Dan Gronkowski, older brother to future all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Perhaps most notably, the first player drafted in 2009 — 255 picks before Succop was taken — was Matthew Stafford. One year after Mr. Irrelevant earned his Super Bowl ring, he and the Bucs fell to Stafford and the Rams, who went on to win that year’s Super Bowl.
Jim Finn, Fullback
Succop was not the first Mr. Irrelevant to win a Super Bowl. That award went to Jim Finn with the New York Giants in 2007.
However, Finn never played a game during the 2007 season. Prior to the season, he was placed on injured reserve (IR), having been the Giants’ fullback for the previous four years.
Marty Moore, Linebacker
Marty Moore’s career itself does not stand out. In eight years, Moore recorded a total of 173 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
Nevertheless, Moore was the first Mr. Irrelevant to ever play in a Super Bowl. He was on the New England Patriots’ roster that lost 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.
Tyrone McGriff Sr., Guard
In terms of on-field performances, Tyrone McGriff Sr. stands out among Mr. Irrelevants. After being the final pick of the 1980 NFL Draft, he was named to the All-Rookie Team that season.
He would then play two more years for the Pittsburgh Steelers before moving to the USFL in 1983. McGriff won a league championship ring and was named to the USFL All-Star Team.
Who Are All the Mr. Irrelevant’s in NFL History?
The official title of Mr. Irrelevant has only been awarded since 1976. Here is the full list of the players to have officially been given the title.
1976 to 1990
Kelvin Kirk, WR | Pittsburgh Steelers
Jim Kelleher, RB | Minnesota Vikings
Lee Washburn, G | Dallas Cowboys
Mike Almond, WR | Pittsburgh Steelers
Tyrone McGriff, G | Pittsburgh Steelers
Phil Nelson, TE | Oakland Raiders
Tim Washington, DB | San Francisco 49ers
John Tuggle, RB | New York Giants (from WAS)
Randy Essington, QB | Los Angeles Raiders
Donald Chumley, DT | San Francisco 49ers
Mike Travis, DB | San Diego Chargers
Norman Jefferson, DB | Green Bay Packers (from NYG)
Jeff Beathard, WR | Los Angeles Rams (from WAS)
Everett Ross, WR | Minnesota Vikings (from SF via LA Raiders)
Demetrius Davis, TE | Los Angeles Raiders (from SF)
1991 to 2000
Larry Wanke, QB | New York Giants
Matt Elliott, C | Washington
Daron Alcorn, K | Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from DAL)
Marty Moore, LB | New England Patriots (from DAL)
Michael Reed, DB | Carolina Panthers
Sam Manuel, LB | San Francisco 49ers
Ronnie McAda, QB | Green Bay Packers
Cam Quayle, TE | Baltimore Ravens
Jim Finn, RB | Chicago Bears (from CLE)
Michael Green, DB | Chicago Bears (from CLE)
2001 to 2010
Tevita Ofahengaue, TE | Arizona Cardinals
Ahmad Miller, DT | Houston Texans
Ryan Hoag, WR | Oakland Raiders (from HOU)
Andre Sommersell, LB | Oakland Raiders
Andy Stokes, TE | New England Patriots
Kevin McMahan, WR | Oakland Raiders
Ramzee Robinson, CB | Detroit Lions
David Vobora, OLB | St. Louis Rams
Ryan Succop, K | Kansas City Chiefs
Tim Toone, WR | Detroit Lions
2011 to 2022
Cheta Ozougwu, DE | Houston Texans
Chandler Harnish, QB | Indianapolis Colts
Justice Cunningham, TE | Indianapolis Colts
Lonnie Ballentine, S | Houston Texans
Gerald Christian, TE | Arizona Cardinals
Kalan Reed, CB | Tennessee Titans (from DEN)
Chad Kelly, QB | Denver Broncos
Trey Quinn, WR | Washington (from ATL)
Caleb Wilson, TE | Arizona Cardinals
Tae Crowder, LB | New York Giants
Grant Stuard, LB | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brock Purdy, QB | Iowa State
Desjuan Johnson, DE | Toledo