Every year at the NFL Draft, there’s a special on-the-spot ceremony to celebrate the very last player picked, Mr. Irrelevant. It’s a special distinction, a tradition created by former NFL wide receiver Paul Salata and carried on by his family. There’s even a week-long event, Irrelevant Week, after the draft that includes a trip to Disneyland, a golf tournament and a banquet where the player is presented with the Lowsman Trophy, a riff on the Heisman Trophy.
This celebration has been going on since 1976, and it’s usually the highlight of the player’s career, which is to say most players taken last in the draft don’t go on to have a lengthy NFL career, if they even make it to the regular season. However, there have been a few notable players picked in the final spot. And two of the most successful have been more recent picks.
The best Mr. Irrelevant ever is still probably kicker Ryan Succop. Drafted in 2009, he’s been a starter in the league since his rookie season, though he’s a free agent in 2023. Taken by the Kansas City Chiefs, he spent five seasons there, before joining in the Tennessee Titans in 2014 as a free agent. He played six seasons there. In 2020, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was the starting kicker for the Bucs team that won the Super Bowl that season, which made him the first Mr. Irrelevant to play and win a Super Bowl as a starting player.
There’s an argument to be made that last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, is the best player taken last in the draft. After starting the season as the team’s third-stringer, he eventually took over as the starter when the Niners lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to injuries.
Purdy ended up playing nine regular season games, with five starts, and three starts in the playoffs. He posted 1,374 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and one rushing touchdown in the regular season, and another 569 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and one rushing score in the postseason. He suffered an elbow injury early in the NFC Championship game that ended his season.
Purdy is expected to battle Trey Lance, the third overall pick in 2021, for the starting job when training camp begins. Not bad for a guy that most experts saw as an afterthought.
Still, Purdy probably needs another season before he can also claim the title of the best Mr. Irrelevant.