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How Laremy Tunsil's gas mask upended the 2021 NFL draft

Jay Busbee
·3 min read
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So it turns out Laremy Tunsil’s gas mask isn’t quite done upending drafts.

You remember the gas mask, right? Two minutes before the 2016 NFL draft was set to begin, a video showed up on Tunsil’s Twitter account: Tunsil, wearing a smoke-filled gas mask, appearing to indulge in … well, something inhale-able.

Tunsil, a highly regarded offensive tackle out of Ole Miss, was projected at one point to go in the top three of a draft that included Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott and Jalen Ramsey. The video, and a later Instagram post that showed what appeared to be text messages where Tunsil requested money from an Ole Miss assistant coach, cratered his stock. He tumbled down the draft board — the Ravens and Titans both took other, less regarded OTs — and Tunsil ended up in the hands of the Miami Dolphins at No. 13.

The bong-mask aspect of Tunsil’s story appeared to end there; he and his agent claimed he’d been hacked, and the NFL declined to issue penalties. Tunsil played three respectable years for Miami, starting 44 games.

Laremy Tunsil's a long way from 2016's draft-night drama. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Laremy Tunsil's a long way from 2016's draft-night drama. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Here’s how the Tunsil pick stays in play: Miami dealt him in August 2019 to Houston as part of a multi-players, multi-draft picks deal that landed the Dolphins two first-round picks in return. One of those first-rounders? This year’s pick, which, thanks to the Texans’ incompetence, was the No. 3 overall pick.

The trade to the Texans also included Kenny Stills, who played two unremarkable seasons for Houston before being waived last fall. Tunsil, on the other hand, validated the Dolphins’ initial faith in him, developing into a Pro Bowl-level player for Houston.

Which brings us to Friday afternoon. Miami dealt that No. 3 pick to San Francisco for the No. 12 pick and a third-rounder, along with first-rounders in 2022 and 2023 … in other words, a one-for-three first-round pick swap. Then the Dolphins swapped the 12th pick and the 2022 first-rounder to Philadelphia for the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft.

After all the dealing, the Dolphins still own two first-round picks in two of the next three NFL drafts ... which means they can stock up on talent while they decide whether Tua Tagovailoa is their quarterback of the future. All, essentially, because of one ill-timed social media post.

If you told someone the night of that 2016 draft that the Dolphins would turn that controversial gas-mask pick into a series of selections that could define the franchise’s 2020s, well … they’d definitely think you were smoking something.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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