The NFL draft is arguably the most compelling part of the NFL season when college hopefuls go to the combine and try and impress teams and aim for the coveted first round pick. Over the years, the draft has developed into one of the must watch sporting events on TV and can also be argued it set the basis for what we now know as reality television. So it is little wonder that the NFL draft has provided us with some truly amazing and often cringe-worthy moments. Here are five of my favourite NFL draft moments.
The Raider Unknown Meets The NFL Draft
Draft pundits often predict where college hopefuls will end up in the NFL draft. But one team that you can guarantee will keep you guessing up to the very end is the Oakland Raiders. When it’s time for the Raiders to turn their pick in, it is anybodys guess as to who they’re going to select. It was the Oakland Raiders that drafted punter Ray Guy with the 23rd pick in the 1979 NFL draft. They were the first team to do so and it hasn’t been done since. As it turned out, Ray Guy was easily the best punter in the league for nearly a decade.
The Raider Unknown makes it on my list because it helps to keep the draft interesting. Because nobody knows which way they will go, it can leave fans and pundits guessing right up to the end. It must be said though that while the Raider Unknown has sometimes worked out for Oakland, they have also landed themselves some of the biggest Draft Busts of all time.
The Minnesota Vikings miss their picks
History has taught us that drafting a player can either make or break a team. There have been countless players who have been highly rated heading into the draft, only to become huge busts when they try to take their game up to the next level. Every team in the NFL has experienced some sort of draft bust with some more than others.
In the 2003 NFL draft, each team ad fifteen minutes to make a pick. Leading up to that moments, team scouts put in hundreds of hours and make meticulous notes to ensure they pick the right player for them. Months of hard work boils down to that one moment when they turn their card in. It was in 2003 that the Minnesota Vikings failed to turn their card in in-time and missed their draft pick.
The Vikings possessed the 7th pick in the draft and it seemed that their draft board was pretty stable at the time. The Jags were haggling with the Ravens for a trade for the 8th pick in the draft and even a trade with the Vikings was being considered. But after the paperwork wasn’t completed on time, the Vikings turned their pick in with just 33 seconds left to go. They missed their 7th pick and then were leapfrogged with the 8th pick by the Panthers, forcing the Vikings to draft 9th overall.
They drafted DT Kevin Williams, who they claim was their target anyway, and he eventually went on to become one of the best defensive tackles in the league. But that could have been disastrous for the Vikings. It is also worth noting that missing a draft pick hadn’t happened before and will undoubtedly never happen again.
Denver trades up for Tim Tebow
Heading into the 2010 NFL draft, the Heisman winning QB had failed to impress NFL scouts. To many, he was nothing more than a solid 3rd round pick and would have made an exceptional back up to an already established QB. Although he was a sensational player in college, there were doubts he could make the transition at the NFL level. There were concerns regarding his accuracy and whether he could step up to make the big plays when he was needed to.
But during the draft, the Denver Broncos gave up the majority of their draft capital to Baltimore to trade up to the 25th pick. And with that pick, they drafted Tim Tebow, a move which floored both fans and NFL pundits alike. Although the Broncos had some success with Tebow as the leader, going on to win an AFC West championship and a playoff game, Tebow struggled to adapt at the NFL level. He was eventually traded to the NY Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots, but received little to no playing time.
Even now, pundits wonder what the Broncos saw in Tebow. Even though they had relative success with the franchise, he soon left the NFL and is now playing baseball with the New York Mets.
Aaron Rodgers Falling
Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith were two of the hottest prospects going into the 2005 NFL draft. Both had excelled at the QB position in college, but everyone expected that Aaron Rodgers would be the first overall pick to the 49ers. As a life long fan of the franchise, Rodgers could not have expected anything better. But to his and the pundit’s surprise, Alex Smith was drafted first overall.
What happened next was arguably one of the most painful moments to watch in the NFL draft. Aaron Rodgers sat in the green room as he watched other players being drafted before him. At the time, many teams already had their franchise QB and so were not interested in him in till the Packers were on the board with the 24th pick. Aaron Rodgers went on to learn from Brett Favre, arguably one of the greatest QB’s of all time and even guided the Packers to a Superbowl.
Watching Aaron Rodgers fall was one of the most painful things to watch in any NFL draft and you can still find the footage on the internet. As the minutes crawled by, you could see him visibly becoming more anxious. However, this cemented the draft as must watch TV and helped it develop into one of the first reality TV shows to hit our screens.
The Eli Manning Trade
This is easily one of the most awkward moments in the draft. Eli Manning was the hottest QB prospect heading into the draft that also included Phillip Rivers and Ben Rothlesiberger. The younger brother of Peyton Manning, the NY Giants were extremely interested in Eli. But they had one problem – they didn’t own the number one pick. That was owned by the San Diego Chargers.
Eli Manning had openly voiced that he was not interested in going to San Diego and his agent was trying his best to swing them the other way. But the Chargers refused to be bullied and did not listen to the numerous press conferences and interviews given by the Manning’s.
Eli was selected first overall by the Chargers and what followed was one of the most awkward moments in draft history. Jeered by the Chargers fans, he refused to put on the hat and held the jersey away from him like it was on fire. It was awkward for the entire family and the commissioner who tried to put on a professional face.
Eventually, the Giants GM Ernie Accorsey was able to acquire Manning through a trade deal that included QB Phillip Rivers. To me, when a player snubs their nose at a franchise, it feels hugely disrespectful. But, in 2019, the edge goes to San Diego. Rivers is still their starting QB while Eli may have won two Superbowl’s, he has slumped behind new comer Daniel Jones.