April 30, 2011
Yes, it is time for the most important aspect of the NFL draft: the revealing of the name of Mr. Irrelevant! The last player selected in every draft holds a high place in NFL lore, and despite what you may expect, quite a few of these guys go on to productive careers.
This year's contestant is Rice defensive end Cheta Ozougwu(notes), who went to the Houston Texans with the 54th pick in the seventh round (254th overall). And the good news for Ozougwu is that in Wade Phillips' new 3-4 scheme, he has a chance to succeed. At 6-foot-2 and 247 pounds, Ozougwu ran a 4.85 40-yard dash at the combine, hit the 225-pound bench press 26 times, and posted a 34 ½-inch vertical. In his 43 games with the Owls, Ozougwu racked up 198 tackles (121 solo), 11 sacks, 21 solo tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles.
So, with numbers that solid, why is this supposed stud relegated to the final pick? His size and skill set actually makes him a bit of a "tweener" — not big enough to be an every-down defensive end, and not explosive enough off the snap to excel as an outside rush linebacker. Phillips basically plays a 4-3 defense that actually looks like a 3-4, so Ozougwu may have a better shot there. And if he did make the squad and make a name for himself, he wouldn't be the first.
Bill Kenney spent nine years as an NFL quarterback, and even made the Pro Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1983. Marty Moore became the first "Mr. I" to play in the Super Bowl when he did so for the New England Patriots. Giants fullback Jim Finn was on the Super Bowl XLII championship team that derailed the Pats' perfect 2007 season. David Vobora(notes) has been a starting linebacker for the St. Louis Rams, he was the man in 2008. And 2009's "winner," Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succoup tied the NFL record for highest field-goal percentage by a rookie in a season at 86.2 percent.
Still, the real thrill of being Mr. Irrelevant is the unprecedented furor over one's name.
The name arose in 1976, when former Southern California and NFL receiver Paul Salata founded "Irrelevant Week" in Newport Beach, California. He announces the final pick of the NFL draft. During the summer after the draft, the new Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to spend a week in Newport, where they enjoy a golf tournament, a regatta, a roast giving advice to the new draftee, and a ceremony awarding him the Lowsman Trophy. The trophy mimics the Heisman, but depicts a player fumbling a football.
So, Mr. Ozougwu, keep your dream alive with the best wishes of the entire NFL family. We'll have our eye out for you!
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