With the 2021 NFL Draft just a few weeks away, it’s an exciting time of the year for fans of football. The NFL Draft is a time for teams to improve their roster with young talent. Throughout the draft’s history, we have seen many unique surprises; from late-round gems to draft day trades. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most unique surprises that have occurred over the history of the NFL Draft:
Michael Vick & LaDainian Tomlinson Trade
The 2001 NFL Draft was star-studded and filled with talent across the board. At the time, Michael Vick seemed to be a once in a generational talent. The NFL had seen the likes of mobile quarterbacks before such as Randall Cunningham and Steve Young. Vick, on the other hand, was a different story.
The then-San Diego Chargers held the first overall pick in the draft and had decided to trade that pick with the Atlanta Falcons. At the time, many draft analysts had thought that the Falcons were giving up too much to move from 5th to 1st, as they had given up Tim Dwight, a second-round pick in the 2001 Draft, and a third-round pick in the 2002 Draft.
Very rarely do you see teams swap picks and both benefit greatly from it. Unfortunately for Vick, he didn’t get much playing time during his rookie year. That didn’t stop him, however. Vick retired in 2015 with 28,573 total yards and 169 total touchdowns.
The Chargers, on the other hand, ended up going on to draft HOF RB, LaDainian Tomlinson out of TCU, who had a lustrous career. Tomlinson went on to set many records including rushing touchdowns in a season (28), 18,456 total scrimmage yards, 162 total touchdowns, and winning MVP in 2006-2007 NFL season.
Laremy Tunsil’s Draft Day Fiasco
The NFL Draft is supposed to be a time for players to enjoy as they look forward to the future and celebrate getting drafted. However, it was a completely different story for Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil. The night of the 2016 NFL Draft, a video of Tunsil hitting a bong through a gas mask surfaced as well as messages indicating he took money from an Ole Miss coach. Someone, who many believed to be a top-five pick in the draft, suddenly started to slide in the draft. Other offensive linemen were drafted before him, including Ronnie Stanely (Notre Dame) and Jack Conklin (Michigan State).
Fortunately for Tunsil, the Miami Dolphins ended his night of terror by selecting him at 13th overall in the draft. The Houston Texans made a trade for Tunsil in August of 2019. Tunsil is regarded by many to be one of the top-tier tackles in the league. Up to this point in his career, Tunsil has already made two Pro Bowls.
Saints Go All-In on Ricky Williams
The 1999 NFL Draft was highlighted by the likes of Donovan McNabb, Champ Bailey, and Edgerrin James. Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints had their eyes on one player, Texas RB Ricky Williams. It was hard to not recognize how great he was in college totaling nearly 6,300 rushing yards in four seasons.
Ditka and the Saints gave up SIX draft picks in the 1999 Draft and two in the 2000 Draft to move up a measly seven spots. The then-Washington Redskins drafted future HOF cornerback, Champ Bailey just moving down two spots. Thinking they had the best player in the draft, Ditka and the Saints couldn’t have been more thrilled with their selection. Unfortunately for them, Williams’ time in New Orleans was short-lived as he was traded in March of 2002 to the Miami Dolphins.
Williams’ time with the Dolphins was a lot more productive as opposed to that with the Saints. Between 2002 and 2010, Williams rushed for 6,436 yards earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors as well. While Williams went on to have a rather successful football career, many still question exactly what the New Orleans Saints were doing when they gave up so much just to trade him a few years later.
We all saw this one coming. Tom Brady, the winner of seven Super Bowls and considered by many to be the greatest player ever, wasn’t a high draft pick. With the odds stacked against him, Brady wasn’t picked until 199 in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Not seeing action until the 2002-2003 season after Drew Bledsoe went down, Brady never looked back, winning his first Super Bowl in 2002 against the St. Louis Rams. With a Super Bowl win under his belt, Brady solidified himself as New England’s starter for years to come winning a total of six Super Bowls and nine total appearances with New England.
Many believed Brady’s days of dominance were over following the loss to the Tennessee Titans in the 2020 Wild Card round. How much more wrong could people have been? He signed a two-year deal worth $50 million to play under Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a superstar-filled cast on both sides of the football, Brady and the Buccaneers went on to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV in his first year with the team.
Brady once again, proved doubters wrong who was claiming he was “washed” or “a product of the system”. He showed that it doesn’t matter when you’re drafted; if you make the most of your opportunities, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.