By the time the seventh round of the NFL draft rolls around on Saturday, boredom has taken over the sets of ESPN and NFL Network. The respite at the end of the day is the last pick of the draft, when a “Mr. Irrelevant” is crowned.
More often than not, the last pick of the NFL draft makes little or no impact. In 2016, the Tennessee Titans used the No. 253 pick to take Southern Miss cornerback Kalan Reed. He spent much of his rookie season on Tennessee’s practice squad before he was promoted to the active roster in November, finishing the year with one tackle in four games.
The last significant impact made by a Mr. Irrelevant came when the Kansas City Chiefs took kicker Ryan Succop in 2009 — grabbing a five-year starter before he was cut in 2014.
But Mr. Irrelevant isn’t honored because of the impact they’re expected to make. It’s a last-kid-picked-at-recess celebration that dates back more than four decades.
Where did Mr. Irrelevant come from?
“We established Irrelevant Week to drive home an important message – that it’s not a negative to be picked last in the NFL Draft; rather, it’s an honor to be drafted at all,” Salata said on the Irrelevant Week website. “The last draft pick’s demonstration of perseverance is lesson that resonates not only with NFL players and fans, but also with people everywhere.”
Salata, 90, was a 10th round pick in the 1951 NFL Draft, a time when 30 rounds existed. But even though he wasn’t a last pick, he’s changed the way the selection is viewed and even forced the NFL to change a rule.
Los Angeles was slated to pick 332nd, but intentionally passed to allow Pittsburgh to pick and hand the Rams the 333rd and final pick. But the Steelers didn’t want it. So a stand-off ensued until Pete Rozelle forced the Rams to pick and instituted a rule, commonly known as the “Salata Rule,” that mandated the team awarded the final pick is the one to use it.
What does Irrelevant Week entail?
Let’s allow the Irrelevant Week website to explain:
In early summer, Mr. Irrelevant is feted with a weeklong series of events held in Newport Beach, California. Mr. Irrelevant is the toast of an Arrival Party welcoming him to town, where NFL fans and the local community come out in force to cheer the player and shower him with gifts from businesses and patrons near and far.
This party is followed with a week of fun for Mr. Irrelevant and his guests, as they tour Disneyland, participate in media opportunities at the NFL Network in Los Angeles, visit the charity beneficiary selected for that year, participate in a sailing regatta in world-famous Newport Harbor, and attend a Major League Baseball Game (either Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels) to receive special recognition.
The week ends with a banquet where the Lowsman Trophy is awarded. Get it? It’s the opposite of the Heisman Trophy. Hooray!
Has any Mr. Irrelevant been good?
Well ... no.
Ryan Succop is about as good as it gets. The kicker has eight NFL seasons and counting under his belt, and made 91.7 percent of his field goals for the Tennessee Titans this season.
Other notables are former Chicago Bears safety Michael Green and former St. Louis Rams linebacker David Vobora — both of whom had stints as starters during their NFL careers.
The Denver Broncos currently own the last pick of the 2017 NFL Draft — which can now be traded after the NFL legalized dealing compensatory selections — but the team definitely shouldn’t expect to land a Pro Bowler at No. 253 overall.