NFL Draft’s Mr. Irrelevant: History of the NFL Draft’s last pick

What does the term Mr. Irrelevant mean, what festivities surround the title, and who are the most notable last picks of the NFL Draft?

Since the 1976 NFL Draft, the last pick in each year’s draft has been given the title of Mr. Irrelevant. With 44 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?

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 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. In 1979, the Los Angeles Rams intentionally passed on the penultimate selection. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers refused to select either.

Then, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle forced the teams to pick. This situation led to the creation of the “Salata Rule.” The rule prohibits teams from passing in order to acquire the final pick of the NFL Draft.

What events does Irrelevant Week consist of, and what is the Lowsman Trophy?

When the player arrives in California, he is treated to an arrival party where he is the guest of honor. At this party, NFL fans and local businesses celebrate the player and present him with gifts.

Following the party, Mr. Irrelevant enjoys a tour of Disneyland, attends a sailing regatta, participates in media opportunities with NFL Network, visits the charity selected for that particular year, and attends an MLB game where he receives special recognition.

Later in the week, the Mr. Irrelevant of the preceding NFL Draft is the guest of honor at the Lowsman Banquet. The banquet is an evening gala where sports stars, past and present, as well as celebrities, have the opportunity to roast and acknowledge the newest member of the club. During the banquet, the Lowsman Trophy is awarded. This trophy is a parody of the Heisman Trophy, where a player is depicted fumbling a football.

Irrelevant Week is about more than just football

While Irrelevant Week honors the last pick of the previous NFL Draft, it is about much more. In fact, the week has supported a number of charities over the course of the last 40 years. In the past three decades, the organization has donated more than $1 million.

The previous beneficiaries include the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Goodwill Industries, Habitat for Humanity, NFL Alumni, the Special Olympics, and the YMCA, as well as many other organizations.

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 would often struggle to make NFL rosters. Since then, the chance of Mr. Irrelevant making it onto an NFL roster has increased significantly. In the past 44 years, a handful of players have succeeded after being selected as the final pick of the NFL Draft.

Ryan Succop, Kicker

Super Bowl LV saw a monumental landmark for Mr. Irrelevant as it was the first time a player to receive the title had 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 Buccaneers won 31-9.

In an intriguing twist of fate, Succop would help the Buccaneers defeat the team that originally selected him back in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs.

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, Finn was placed on injured reserve, having been the Giants fullback for the previous four seasons.

Marty Moore, Linebacker

Marty Moore’s career itself does not stand out. In eight years, Moore recorded a total of 173 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. Moore was the first Mr. Irrelevant to ever play in a Super Bowl, though. He was on the 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, McGriff was named to the All-Rookie Team that season. He would then play two more years for the Steelers before moving to the USFL in 1983. He won a league championship ring and was names 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

  • 1976: Kelvin Kirk, WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1977: Jim Kelleher, RB – Minnesota Vikings
  • 1978: Lee Washburn, G – Dallas Cowboys
  • 1979: Mike Almond, WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1980: Tyrone McGriff, G – Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1981: Phil Nelson, TE – Oakland Raiders
  • 1982: Tim Washington, DB – San Francisco 49ers
  • 1983: John Tuggle, RB – New York Giants (from Washington)
  • 1984: Randy Essington, QB – Los Angeles Raiders
  • 1985: Donald Chumley, DT – San Francisco 49ers
  • 1986: Mike Travis, DB – San Diego Chargers
  • 1987: Norman Jefferson, DB – Green Bay Packers (from New York Giants)
  • 1988: Jeff Beathard, WR – Los Angeles Rams (from Washington)
  • 1989: Everett Ross, WR – Minnesota Vikings (from San Francisco through Los Angeles Raiders)
  • 1990: Demetrius Davis, TE – Los Angeles Raiders (from San Francisco)

1991 to 2000

  • 1991: Larry Wanke, QB – New York Giants
  • 1992: Matt Elliott, C – Washington Redskins
  • 1993: Daron Alcorn, K – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Dallas)
  • 1994: Marty Moore, LB – New England Patriots (from Dallas)
  • 1995: Michael Reed, DB – Carolina Panthers
  • 1996: Sam Manuel, LB – San Francisco 49ers
  • 1997: Ronnie McAda, QB – Green Bay Packers
  • 1998: Cam Quayle, TE – Baltimore Ravens
  • 1999: Jim Finn, RB – Chicago Bears (from Browns)
  • 2000: Michael Green, DB – Chicago Bears (from Browns)

2001 to 2010

  • 2001: Tevita Ofahengaue, TE – Arizona Cardinals
  • 2002: Ahmad Miller, DT – Houston Texans
  • 2003: Ryan Hoag, WR – Oakland Raiders (from Texans)
  • 2004: Andre Sommersell, LB – Oakland Raiders
  • 2005: Andy Stokes, TE – New England Patriots
  • 2006: Kevin McMahan, WR – Oakland Raiders
  • 2007: Ramzee Robinson, CB – Detroit Lions
  • 2008: David Vobora, OLB – St. Louis Rams
  • 2009: Ryan Succop, K – Kansas City Chiefs
  • 2010: Tim Toone, WR – Detroit Lions

2011 to 2020

  • 2011: Cheta Ozougwu, DE – Houston Texans
  • 2012: Chandler Harnish, QB – Indianapolis Colts
  • 2013: Justice Cunningham, TE – Indianapolis Colts
  • 2014: Lonnie Ballentine, S – Houston Texans
  • 2015: Gerald Christian, TE – Arizona Cardinals
  • 2016: Kalan Reed, CB – Tennessee Titans (from Denver)
  • 2017: Chad Kelly, QB – Denver Broncos
  • 2018: Trey Quinn, WR – Washington Redskins (from Atlanta)
  • 2019: Caleb Wilson, TE – Arizona Cardinals
  • 2020: Tae Crowder, LB – New York Giants
  • 2021: Grant Stuard, LB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN

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