10 Craziest Moments in NFL Draft History
The 2023 NFL Draft is almost upon us and, as with every year, we're expecting a wild few days. Some weird things have happened during the draft since its inception, many in the last few years. Here's our look at the craziest moments in NFL draft history.
Laremy Tunsil Gas Mask Bong Causes Chaos
After an excellent career at Ole Miss, Tunsil was set to be a top-five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Some projections even had him slated to be the No. 1 overall selection by the Tennessee Titans before they traded the pick to the Los Angeles Rams. He was widely considered the top offensive lineman in his class and a sure-fire future All-Pro. Then 10 minutes before the start of the draft, insanity struck.
Just before the draft began, Tunsil's Twitter account posted a video that showed him smoking marijuana through a gas mask bong. Chaos immediately ensued. It was confirmed Tunsil's account was hacked. As if that wasn't enough, Tunsil's Instagram account was also hacked and posted a screenshot of text messages asking Ole Miss assistant athletic director for rent money and cash so his mother could pay her electric bill. After the draft Tunsil confirmed he had taken money from an Ole Miss coach.
As you would expect, his stock immediately dropped like a rock. The Baltimore Ravens and the Titans both needed offensive tackles. At No. 6, Baltimore passed on Tunsil in favor of Ronnie Stanley, while the Titans took Michigan State OT Jack Conklin. The Miami Dolphins finally selected Tunsil with the 13th pick. The hacks cost him millions of dollars.
Tunsil has gone on to realize his potential as an All-Pro and has more than made up for the money he lost. But the 2016 draft was probably the craziest night of his life.
Mel Kiper, Bill Tobin Clash Over Trev Alberts Pick
The Indianapolis Colts had two top-five picks at the 1994 NFL Draft, and ESPN's Mel Kiper couldn't believe how they used them. After selecting future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk at No. 2, the Colts used the fifth pick on Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts. Kiper went ballistic, as he couldn't believe the Colts didn't select Trent Dilfer over Alberts -- Dilfer went No. 6 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kiper said the Colts were floundering with Jim Harbaugh under center, and decisions like drafting Alberts was, "why the Colts are picking second every year in the draft." Colts general manager Bill Tobin responded angrily by saying, "Who in the hell is Mel Kiper anyway?" while Kiper watched. The veteran draft expert had the last word saying, "I'm secure in my position. Obviously, Bill Tobin isn't very secure in his position to have a response like that."
To recap: a GM and a draft expert hurled insults at each other in the middle of the draft. It was an amazing collection of moments. Just surreal.
Ultimately, Kiper was correct. Alberts was a complete bust and was out of the NFL after three seasons, while Dilfer was a solid -- not spectacular -- quarterback who did win a Super Bowl.
Vikings miss their first-round pick
The Minnesota Vikings will forever live in infamy for what happened during the 2003 NFL Draft. They were on the clock with the seventh pick in the first round, when all hell broke loose. As the Vikes attempted to work a deal with the Baltimore Ravens that would have seen them dropping down to No. 10 in exchange for picks in the fourth and sixth rounds, time ran out on their selection. When that happens, the next team is allowed to submit their selection. And that's exactly what happened.
Immediately the Jacksonville Jaguars handed in their selection, taking quarterback Byron Leftwich. And if that wasn't enough, as soon as Leftwich was announced, the Carolina Panthers legitimately sprinted to turn in their card selecting offensive tackle Jordan Gross. The Vikings were stunned into inaction and eventually scrapped the trade with the Ravens and rushed to turn in their selection of defensive tackle Kevin Williamson. It wound up being the ninth pick.
After the draft it turned out the Vikings did submit the completed trade to the league very late in their clock time. The Ravens also agreed the trade was consummated but never contacted the league to confirm it. It was essentially a procedural error that led to one of the most memorable draft moments in history.
Saints Trade Entire Draft for Ricky Williams
Entering the 1999 NFL Draft, New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka had one goal: draft Ricky Williams no matter the cost. So he did just that. In what is still one of the most mind-boggling moves in draft history, the Saints traded their entire draft, plus two picks in 2000, to move up to take Williams.
Washington owned the fifth pick in 1999, New Orleans was sitting at No. 12. The Saints wanted Williams so badly they sent Washington their first- (No. 12), third- (No. 71), fourth- (No. 107), fifth- (No. 144), sixth- (No. 179) and seventh-round (No. 218) picks, plus a first- (No. 2) and third-rounder (No. 64) in 2000. All of that was to move up just seven spots in the first-round. Oh, in case you're wondering, the Saints didn't have a second-rounder to trade in 1999 or surely that would have been out the door too.
The move left draft experts flabbergasted. What were the Saints thinking? It was wildly criticized as New Orleans giving up far too much for one player. To this day, many view it as the second-worst NFL trade of all-time behind the infamous Herschel Walker deal. Williams was decent for the Saints, but didn't reach the Pro Bowl until he left to play for the Miami Dolphins in 2002. That year he was named first-team All-Pro, his only such selection of his career.
Eli Manning And Philip Rivers Swap Jerseys
While there were plenty of excellent players selected in the 2004 NFL Draft, all anyone remembers is the Eli Manning/San Diego Chargers/Philip Rivers mess. The Chargers had the top selection and Manning had informed the team he had no desire to play for them, and would prefer to land with the New York Giants. The Chargers ignored that request.
San Diego took Manning with the No. 1 pick, which led to a bizarre moment where the Ole Miss product had to hold a Chargers jersey for cameras looking absolutely miserable. The Giants selected Rivers with the fourth pick. Soon after that happened, the two sides announced a trade. Manning went to the Giants in exchange for Rivers, a third-rounder (No. 65) in 2004, and their first-, and fifth-round selections in 2005. A draft day swap involving two franchise quarterbacks is something we aren't likely to see again.
The deal wound up working for everyone. Rivers became the best quarterback in Chargers history and Manning led the Giants to two Super Bowls. Both are likely Hall of Famers. They'll forever be linked because of a really bizarre few hours during the draft.
Buccaneers Select the Wrong Person in 1982
Any time you're having a bad day just imagine if you'd turned in a card with the wrong name on it during the first-round of the NFL draft, likely costing your franchise the player it wanted. Because that's exactly what happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1982.
With the 17th pick in the 1982 draft, the Bucs selected Penn State guard Sean Farrell. Farrell was a perfectly fine player and projected to be a solid NFL lineman. There was just one problem: the Buccaneers meant to select Bethune-Cookman defensive end Booker Reese.
Yes a miscommunication in the draft room led to Farrell's name being turned in, while Reese remained on the board. It was a monumental screw up. Luckily for Tampa, Reese was still on the board when they selected in the second round and they grabbed him at No. 32. The irony here is that Farrell turned out to be a really good NFL player, while Reese is considered one of the worst picks in Buccaneers history.
Cedric Benson Furious After Bears Draft Him
The Chicago Bears selected Texas running back Cedric Benson with the fourth pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Like many draft picks, Benson was so emotional after being selected that tears were streaming down his face. But not for the reasons you'd think.
Benson was so upset Chicago took him that he actually cried tears of anger/sadness. Benson's representatives had flat out told the Bears not to take their client, but the team didn't listen and plowed ahead anyway. The result was a tumultuous three years in Chicago where Benson wildly underperformed expectations.
After two alcohol-related arrests, the Bears released Benson in 2008 and he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. There he flourished, racking up three 1,000-yard seasons in a row despite a string of off-field troubles.
Aaron Rodgers' Draft Day Fall
Heading into the 2005 NFL Draft, Aaron Rodgers was expected to be among the first players selected. Many had him targeted to go No. 1 to his hometown San Francisco 49ers. The Cal quarterback and future Hall of Famer was in attendance, expecting a short wait in the Green Room. Then things got interesting.
The 49ers took Alex Smith with the top pick, and Rodgers began to suffer an excruciating fall. The world watched as he sat there for hours while 23 players were selected. By the end, he was alone in the Green Room waiting for his painful evening to mercifully end. We all know what happened next, as the Green Bay Packers called Rodgers' name with the 24th pick and the rest is history.
It worked out for Rodgers in the end, but his first night as a professional was a rough one.
John Elway Refuses to Play For the Colts
Stop me if you've heard this before: Consensus No. 1 quarterback in the draft tells team with the top pick not to select him, team selects him, quarterback threatens to sit out. No, we're not doing the Eli Manning story again. This time it was John Elway refusing to play for the team that drafted him.
The Baltimore Colts took Elway despite the knowledge that he didn't want to play for them. As soon as Elway got in front of a microphone, he claimed he would rather quit football and play baseball for the New York Yankees than ever suit up for the Colts. He claimed he preferred to stay on the West Coast. Elway took a ton of heat for his stance.
A number of teams tried to trade for Elway as the Chargers, 49ers and Raiders were all involved. Ultimately, the Denver Broncos stepped up and got a deal done a few days after the draft and Elway went on to spend his entire Hall of Fame career in the Mile High City.
Brady Quinn Leaves the Green Room
Like Rodgers, Brady Quinn was expected to be a top-10 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. JaMarcus Russell was ticketed to be the top quarterback off the board, but Quinn hoped he could go as high as No. 3 to the Cleveland Browns. If the Browns went in a different direction, Quinn might wait for a while. So when Cleveland selected Joe Thomas with the third pick, many saw what was coming.
Quinn fell like a rock and, like Rodgers, watched everyone sitting around him get selected over the course of a few hours. Eventually, commissioner Roger Goodell invited Quinn to leave the Green Room so one of the worst days of his life wouldn't be playing out on live television.
Eventually, the Browns moved up from the second round to No. 22 and selected Quinn, ending his nightmare evening. Footage showed him rushing back towards the Green Room as he got word he'd be selected.