I'm not usually prone to writing my thoughts down where the whole world can view them, but I felt bored and this subject is to often forgotten about each year on opening day
In the NFL draft, there is so much anticipation as to whom the first pick will be. But there's another pick that has a few folks closely paying attention. It is "Mr. Irrelevant"
The majority of them never play a down in a regular season NFL game.
Mr. Irrelevant is the last player selected in the draft, each year. Which usually means he's good enough to be drafted, but not good enough to play in the NFL.
The first Mr. Irrelevant to make the final roster was Fred Dreher, an end from Denver University. drafted by the Bears in 1938. In his his only NFL season, he played three games and caught three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. In the earlier eras, final draft selections were more apt to play in the NFL than they are today.
During the early years of the NFL-AFL signing wars, the Eagles drafted a fullback from Colgate named Jacque MacKinnon. He was the last player selected in the 1961 NFL draft, and he is the only such player ever to be eventually selected as an AFL All-Star in 1966 and 1968. But he never played a down with the Eagles or in the NFL for that matter.... That is until the merger in 1970. MacKinnon wound up signing with San Diego and played nine full seasons with them. It seemed the San Diego Chargers, had an eye for turning a Mr. Irrelevant into a quality football player.
The most relevant Mr. Irrelevant the NFL & San Diego Chargers ever snagged, ended up being one of the greatest players in San Diego's franchise history. With the 335th and final selection of the 1977 draft, the Raiders picked a kicker from California-Davis. But the Raiders didn't really need a kicker. They had Errol Mann under contract then, so they let Mr. Irrelevant go during training camp. The Chargers, meanwhile, had lost their kicker from the previous year to another team .......... Enter Rolf Benirschke
Benirschke took over the kicking duties in San Diego and the rest, as they say, is history. He's second on the all-time Chargers' list with 766 career points 208 field goals made. The only Mr. Irrelevant ever selected to the Pro Bowl in 1983 ........he was better in 1984, yet wasn't chosen for the Pro Bowl. Benirschke set 16 Charger team records and was inducted into the Chargers' Hall of Fame in 1997. His place in history as a "successful" Mr. Irrelevant no doubt gives hope to that last guy taken in the draft every year. Here's to you Mister Irrelevant ! Go and enjoy yourself at "Irrelevant Week" where you are the only honoree (yes there is such a thing)
Now I'm quite sure there are many-many more Mister Irrelevants who have ended up playing. I just don't have what it takes to hunt down every one from Fred Dreher to David Vobora. So, if you're keeping track of the draft picks each year, keep an eye on the final selection. Mr. Irrelevant just might end up becoming a star. Last years Mr. Irrelevant was David Vobora, linebacker from Idaho. Picked 252 by the St Louis Rams. He made the team and is a back-up at LB position