The last player in taken in the NFL draft is labeled Mr. Irrelevant. The Dallas Cowboys final selection in 2019 might become anything but irrelevant.
The NFL draft has a weird tradition. The final player selected in every draft since 1976 has been granted the title of Mr. Irrelevant. And that young prospect gets to participate in a week-long celebration in Newport Beach, California that includes a parade, a banquet/roast in his honor and a trip to Disneyland, which less than an hour away. All of which is done in part to benefit local charities.
Since its inception, only one drafted member of the Dallas Cowboys has held the honor of being Mr. Irrelevant. And that’s Montana State guard Lee Washburn all the way back in 1978. He would be released during training camp later that same year.
For the modern-day Cowboys, their final selections in the draft have fared a bit better than Mr. Washburn. In fact, both tight ends Geoff Swaim and Rico Gathers have been the Cowboys’ final pick in recent drafts. In 2005, the Cowboys were able to find a four-time Pro Bowler in defensive tackle Jay Ratliff with their final pick in the seventh round.
All three prove that just because you may be the Cowboys’ final draft selection, it doesn’t make you irrelevant and destined to receive a dreaded visit from the Turk. In fact, this year’s final selection for America’s Team has one pivotal member of the front office very excited by his potential. That being Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel, Will McClay.
Here’s what McClay told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Oregon defensive end Jalen Jelks, the team’s final selection (241st, seventh round) in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“[Jelks] just jumped off the tape. The length, the ability, the effort, the motor. You see it all on tape. He played a multitude of positions at Oregon so he never got to hone in on one. But he was competitive everywhere. He battled in there, even against the guards and was productive and disruptive.”
There is plenty to be excited about when it comes to Jelks. Possessing a tall but thin frame at 6-foot-5, 256 pounds, the rookie defensive end needs to add some bulk and strength to find success on the next level. But he possesses the raw traits, tenacity, and mobility that could land him a spot on the active roster in his first season. Especially with the questions surrounding the availability of both suspended pass rusher Randy Gregory and veteran Tyrone Crawford.
Jelks racked up 115 total tackles, 23.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Oregon combined. He was voted to the all Pac-12 All-Conference first team last year and was named a team captain, something the Cowboys’ covet in their prospects. Although Jelks is certainly a developmental player and will likely have to find an early role on special teams to stick, his potential has Will McClay and others excited. Let’s hope the rookie is anything but irrelevant this summer.