For decades, “Mr. Irrelevant” has rarely been relevant in the NFL. That changed last year with the rise of Brock Purdy, who the San Francisco 49ers selected with the final pick in 2022.
This year, the Los Angeles Rams had the last word of the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting Toledo defensive end Desjuan Johnson at No. 259.
The Rams landed the final pick in a deal with the Texans that allowed Houston to select Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o with the No. 167 pick in the fifth round.
Johnson was a five-year player at Toledo, and his numbers progressed each season. After recording a sack in each of his first two seasons, Johnson recorded 2.5 sacks in 2020, 4.5 sacks in 2021 and 5.5 sacks in 2022. He emerged as a full-time starter in his final two seasons and went on to finish his collegiate career with two second-team All-MAC campaigns.
He boasts 210 tackles (45.5 for loss), 14.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in his college career.
The “Mr. Irrelevant” moniker has been a tradition since 1976, but there’s no doubt that Purdy rewrote the history books when it comes to being the draft’s final pick. Purdy, a third-string quarterback at the time, stepped into the 49ers’ starting role when both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were injured, leading the Niners to eight straight victories and all the way to the NFC championship game. He passed for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions during the campaign.
Johnson likely won’t see the same spotlight as a quarterback would have in this position, but he’ll hope to join a handful of players that ended up having a good deal of success at the NFL level after being “Mr. Irrelevant”, such as longtime veteran kicker Ryan Succop (2009), Mike Green (2000) and Tyrone McGriff (1980).
There have been 47 “Mr. Irrelevants”, starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ selection of Dayton wide receiver Kelvin Kirk.
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