It is the only selection in the NFL Draft that has a trophy associated with it. The player drafted is swept away to a week of fun and honor in fabulous Newport Beach, California. And it is the most anticipated selection of the NFL Draft—well, at least on the second day.
The last selection in the NFL Draft, once a mark of shame, is now somewhat more distinguished with the invention of Mr. Irrelevant! As the website for Irrelevant Week states, it "Is a week-long celebration of the Underdog."
Irrelevant Week—the week-long "celebration" of the last pick in the Draft—and Mr. Irrelevant are the brainchild of Paul Salata, a former USC wideout. Started in 1976, the honor of "Mr. Irrelevant" has become part of the tradition of the NFL Draft.
Now, I am sure you are thinking, "Why celebrate the last pick taken? He's a loser!" Perhaps. But with the first pick of the Draft being decided on prior to the draft actually taking place, there is little uncertainty how it will all begin.
How the draft will end, however, is a complete mystery. Who out there is certain that Will Dunbar will be taken as Mr. Irrelevant? It adds excitement and intrigue to the Draft, especially on day two.
Plus, Mr. Irrelevant is not always "irrelevant." Two recipients of the Lowsman Trophy actually led their team to a Super Bowl victory!
Okay, maybe the notion of the players "leading" their team is a stretch as one was on injured reserve while the other played a minor role on special teams.
But, that stated, I never saw Ki-Jana Carter playing in Super Bowl (or the playoffs, for that matter).
So why the time frame from 1994 until 2008? Well, first off it is a nice number—the last fifteen years.
But more importantly, I chose 1994 as the starting point because that was when the NFL went to the current format of seven rounds (the NFL scaled down the Draft from twelve rounds to eight in 1993, then to seven rounds in 1994).
Because of this, there are a few Mr. Irrelevants prior to the time frame that are worth noting. Former Missouri State Senator Bill Kenney (Mr. Irrelevant 1978), drafted by the Dolphins, threw for over 17000 yards and 105 TDs during his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs (1980-88).
In 1983, he threw for over 4300 yards with 24 touchdowns, good enough to land him in the Pro Bowl.
While not a Mr. Irrelevant, Jimmy Walker was the last selection taken in the 1967 Draft. As an ex post facto Mr. Irrelevant, he was also a number one pick—in the NBA draft!
A three-time All-American at Providence, Walker had a productive NBA career, averaging 16.7 points over a span of nine seasons. He was also named to two NBA All-Star games.
Ironically, he was drafted into the NFL despite never playing football.
And then there is John Tuggle, 1983's Mr. Irrelevant. Coming out of Cal, he was the first Mr. Irrelevant to make an NFL team.
Unfortunately, his potential was never realized as a battle with cancer cut short his NFL career and ultimately his life.
Mr. Irrelevant can be (somewhat) successful. Maybe the odds of a Mr. Irrelevant making a team is not the same odds that a No. 1 pick will flop. But, it is closer than one might think (Alex Smith? Tim Couch?).
So, without further adieu, here are the top five most "successful" Mr. Irrelevants over the last fifteen years!