What is Mr. Irrelevant? Name & player history ahead of 2023 NFL Draft

A fan holds an altered “Mr. Irrelevant” jersey for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (not pictured) Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
A fan holds an altered “Mr. Irrelevant” jersey for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (not pictured) Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Before Brock Purdy came around, there were probably many 49ers fans who didn’t know what Mr. Irrelevant meant or who he was during NFL Draft season.

The NFL Draft is awfully exciting, but it’s also understandable why so many fans tune out after the first round or so.

And those fans who hang around late into day three of the draft are the die-hards, right?

Those fans know who Mr. Irrelevant is, the final selection of the NFL Draft.

San Francisco 49ers fans now know this awfully well after the Niners selected former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy at the very end of the 2022 NFL Draft at No. 262 overall.

Purdy, of course, would become very relevant, rising from a third-string rookie all the way to helping lead San Francisco to the NFC Championship in his first season.

Most Mr. Irrelevant players, though, fall into absolute obscurity. After all, few seventh-round selections end up being notable players at the NFL level if they even make a team’s roster at all.

That said, Purdy showed why this accolade can be important. Let’s help you understand it and its history a bit more.

What and who is Mr. Irrelevant in the NFL Draft?

There’s actually a good deal of stuff that goes into being Mr. Irrelevant. It’s not just about being the final selection of any year’s NFL Draft before teams scurry to sign undrafted free agents.

The irrelevancy part might be archaic. After all, there are plenty of undrafted players who become stars out of others who completely disappear. And, considering undrafted free agents are free to sign with any team (and price tag) of their choosing, it can actually make more sense not to get drafted with the final pick than to bestow that Mr. Irrelevant “honor.”

Speaking of that honor, the designation goes far beyond the moniker.

Mr. Irrelevant began during the 1976 NFL Draft when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected wide receiver Kelvin Kirk at No. 487 overall (the draft had many more rounds back then).

Former NFL wideout Paul Salata founded the designation and subsequent event that year, which included taking the player on a tour, of sorts, with all kinds of publicity.

In most cases, that’ll be the most attention Mr. Irrelevant will receive.

But not always.

Mr. Irrelevant history

Let’s take at that full list of Mr. Irrelevant players from Kirk to Purdy

  • 1976: WR Kelvin Kirk, Steelers
  • 1977: RB Jim Kelleher, Vikings
  • 1978: OL Lee Washburn, Cowboys
  • 1979: WR Mike Almond, Steelers
  • 1980: OL Tyrone McGriff, Steelers
  • 1981: TE Phil Nelson, Raiders
  • 1982: DB Tim Washington, 49ers
  • 1983: RB John Tuggle, Giants
  • 1984: QB Randy Essington, Raiders
  • 1985: DT Donald Chumley, 49ers
  • 1986: DB Mike Travis, Chargers
  • 1987: DB Norman Jefferson, Packers
  • 1988: WR Jeff Beathard, Rams
  • 1989: WR Everett Ross, Vikings
  • 1990: TE Demetrius Davis, Raiders
  • 1991: QB Larry Wanke, Giants
  • 1992: C Matt Elliott, Redskins
  • 1993: K Daron Alcorn, Buccaneers
  • 1994: LB Marty Moore, Patriots
  • 1995: DB Michael Reed, Panthers
  • 1996: LB Sam Manuel, 49ers
  • 1997: QB Ronnie McAda, Packers
  • 1998: TE Cam Quayle, Ravens
  • 1999 RB Jim Finn, Bears
  • 2000: DB Michael Green, Bears
  • 2001: TE Tevita Ofahengaue, Cardinals
  • 2002: DT Ahmad Miller, Texans
  • 2003: K Ryan Hoag, Raiders
  • 2004: LB Andre Sommersell, Raiders
  • 2005: TE Andy Stokes, Patriots
  • 2006: WR Kevin McMahan, Raiders
  • 2007: CB Ramzee Robinson, Lions
  • 2008: LB David Vobora, Rams
  • 2009: K Ryan Succop, Chiefs
  • 2010: WR Tim Toone, Lions
  • 2011: DE Cheta Ozougwu, Texans
  • 2012: QB Chandler Harnish, Colts
  • 2013: TE Justice Cunningham, Colts
  • 2014: S Lonnie Ballentine, Texans
  • 2015: TE Gerald Christian, Cardinals
  • 2016: CB Kalan Reed, Titans
  • 2017: QB Chad Kelly, Broncos
  • 2018: WR Trey Quinn, Redskins
  • 2019: TE Caleb Wilson, Cardinals
  • 2020: LB Tae Crowder, Giants
  • 2021: LB Grant Stuard, Buccaneers
  • 2022: QB Brock Purdy, 49ers

Green and Succop each carved out pretty noteworthy careers, while Purdy has become something of a revelation for the Niners.

Perhaps Purdy continues to reinforce the notion that Mr. Irrelevant is actually quite relevant after all.

Next. Ranking 49ers' 10 best late-round NFL Draft picks of all time. dark