Lonnie Ballentine didn’t know much about the term Mr. Irrelevant before he was taken by the Houston Texans with the final pick in the NFL draft on Saturday.
When he realized that’s how he would be known this year, the Memphis safety took it in stride.
“Mr. Irrelevant is fine with me,” he said. “Just being drafted to the NFL is a dream come true, something that I’ve been wanting to do my whole life. It is an opportunity to show people you are relevant.”
Houston opened this year’s draft by taking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick and finished it off by selecting Ballentine with pick No. 256.
Ballentine will be honored with a trip to Disneyland and many Irrelevant Week events in Newport Beach, California, this summer. He had no clue about all the perks that came with bringing up the rear in the draft.
He was emotional while on a conference call with reporters in Houston and said: “tears are still running down my face as we speak because I can’t believe it.”
Hawks sign Price
All-America defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat from Texas and Washington quarterback Keith Price were among nine undrafted rookies to agree to free-agent deals with the Seattle Seahawks.
The deals were agreed to after the conclusion of the draft Saturday. Jeffcoat was a surprise going undrafted after his senior season with the Longhorns where he was voted the Big 12 Conference defensive player of the year. Price’s deal was not surprising given his proximity to the Seahawks and friendship with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
Also agreeing to deals were USC safety Dion Bailey, Montana linebacker Brock Coyle, Central Arkansas tight end Chase Dixon, Penn State offensive tackle Garry Gilliam, Oklahoma guard Bronson Irwin, South Carolina cornerback Jimmy Legree and Eastern Washington defensive tackle Andru Pulu.
• Washington State offensive lineman John Fullington signed as a free agent with Green Bay.
• Kjelby Oiland, a Montana offensive lineman out of Ferris, signed as a free agent with Houston.
SEC QBs languish
It took a few hours on the final day of the NFL draft for A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger to finally hear their names called.
They were star quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference, yet will be long shots to become early starters in the pros.
McCarron led Alabama to two national titles, but had to wait until the 164th overall spot to be selected by Cincinnati. Georgia’s Murray went one pick earlier Saturday to Kansas City. LSU’s Mettenberger didn’t go until the sixth round, to Tennessee.
Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas, not nearly as accomplished as the SEC passers, was the first QB chosen, by Arizona in the fourth round.
Murray had a penchant for big plays with the Bulldogs, but the SEC’s career passing leader tore his ACL on Nov. 8 and did not work out during the NFL combine. He figures to compete for a third-string job this year.
“There’s no restrictions, no second thought when I’m running, cutting,” Murray said. “It’s full-speed, full-go ahead.”
McCarron expects to learn behind Bengals starter Andy Dalton.
“I’m confident in myself, but at the same time, I know Andy’s the QB out there and I respect that,” McCarron said. “All I want to do is go in and help us in whatever way I can. If that means me holding the clipboard for a couple of years and giving Andy reports during the week and watching film with him and helping him in any way I can, I’m just ready to do it.”