Last in the N.F.L. Draft, but Getting More Relevant All the Time

But there is one constant through the years: The last pick rarely makes a dent in his team’s record, with most Mr. Irrelevants spending the bulk of their careers in obscurity on the bench or ending up in the C.F.L. Some have had serviceable or noteworthy careers, but most remain, well, irrelevant to the team’s performance.

On Saturday, the Denver Broncos, with the last pick, No. 253, generated the Mr. Irrelevant of 2017: quarterback Chad Kelly of Mississippi — the nephew of Jim Kelly, the Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame quarterback.

Unlike the No. 1 pick, which is widely anticipated and seen by millions of fans, the name of Mr. Irrelevant is typically heard by only a handful of fans, diehard followers who tend to rush the stage in mock jubilation just before the last pick is announced. This year, Salata’s daughter, Melanie Fitch, did the honor, and her husband, Ed, unfurled a jersey with the number 253 on the back.

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Salata at the 2014 parade for Mr. Irrelevant. The Texans chose Lonnie Ballentine with the last pick that year.

Credit
Irrelevant Week

Salata takes special satisfaction in the annual offbeat ritual.

Like most of the players awarded Mr. Irrelevant, Salata had a career, in the early 1950s, that was brief and largely unremarkable. A wide receiver at U.S.C., he played just 23 games in the old All-American Football Conference and the N.F.L., and then a few years in Canada, before leaving the game in 1953.

After football, he landed a few minor roles in movies like “Stalag 17,” and then went to work in his family’s construction business in Southern California.

For years afterward, he helped one of his old teams, the San Francisco 49ers, on draft day, and saw how players picked in the lower rounds received little notice. Given his…

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