It was fitting that the first and last picks of the 2020 NFL draft came from the SEC.
The draft started Thursday with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow going first overall, and the SEC set a record for most first-round picks by one conference. Then the final pick was Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder to the New York Giants. He is this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant.” Dawn Aponte, NFL chief football administration officer, announced the final pick from her house.
The Giants had the final pick of the draft, No. 255 overall. They looked to the defense and added another linebacker. Four of the Giants’ final five picks were either linebackers or edge defenders, so Crowder will have a lot of competition in camp. The Giants’ first pick was also from Georgia: offensive tackle Andrew Thomas at No. 4 overall.
Crowder should be comfortable in taking a circuitous route to the NFL. He was a two-star running back recruit coming out of high school and committed to Georgia Southern, but the night before signing day he was offered a scholarship to Georgia. A year later, when he was buried on the depth chart, he was moved to inside linebacker by new Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
It turned out well. Crowder started all 14 games last season, was second on the Bulldogs with 62 total tackles and was one of 12 semifinalists for the Dick Butkus Award given to the best linebacker in college football. Now he gets to be celebrated as Mr. Irrelevant before trying to make the Giants.
Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant didn’t stick with Arizona
With the final pick of last year’s draft, the Arizona Cardinals took UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson, but he was cut at the end of the preseason. He was on Arizona’s practice squad when the Washington Redskins signed him in mid-December. He did not appear in a game before the end of the season.
In Washington, Wilson became teammates with the 2018 Mr. Irrelevant, receiver Trey Quinn. Quinn has spent two seasons with the Redskins, appearing in 12 games last season while starting six. He had 198 yards and a touchdown on 26 catches last season.
Kicker Ryan Succop is still the most decorated Mr. Irrelevant, though he had a tough 2019. Succop dealt with a knee injury for the Tennessee Titans, went on injured reserve and then went just 1-of-6 on field goal attempts in six games before going back on IR. The Titans cut him in March, and he’s still a free agent. Succop has played 11 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and Titans, and that’s an amazing career for the final pick of the draft, no matter what happens for him next.
Mr. Irrelevant festivities usually come in summer
The Mr. Irrelevant tradition started in 1976. It could change this year.
Usually, “Irrelevant Week” is held in late June in Newport Beach, California. There have been no indications yet that the event will be changed or canceled due to coronavirus restrictions, but that obviously could happen. The week typically includes a parade and a banquet, a visit to Disneyland and a sailing regatta in Newport Harbor, as well as a Los Angeles Dodgers or Los Angeles Angels game. Money is raised for charity through the various events.
Usually the organizers of Irrelevant Week are on site for the draft, but that couldn’t happen this year. Paul Salata, the 93-year-old founder of the Irrelevant Week festivities, helped tape a video message for the TV broadcast to lead into the final pick of the draft.
We’ll see if Crowder goes to California for a parade. But he made it into the draft.
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