The 2023 NFL Draft is here.
In less than 12 hours, we’ll know who the Carolina Panthers will pick first overall.
It’s likely that Carolina will take a quarterback, and if they didn’t, it would be considered an incredible shock, and one likely to cause media uproar. But it wouldn’t be the first shock the NFL Draft has ever produced.
It's Draft Day ?
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) April 27, 2023
So with bombshells, disbelief, and flat-out refusals in mind, here are Decyfr’s top five NFL Draft Day moments.
5 – Tunsil’s Slide (2016)
Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, Laremy Tunsil was seen as the best offensive tackle available.
But ten minutes before the draft started, Tunsil’s social media was hacked. Videos showing the lineman appearing to smoke marijuana were released, causing one of the biggest draft day slides in league history.
Tunsil was eventually drafted 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins, showing how easily teams can be deterred by potential character issues – something Jalen Carter from the University of Georgia may soon discover himself.
4 – Jefferson Falls to Minnesota (2020)
Almost every expert prior to the 2020 NFL Draft had the Philadelphia Eagles selecting a wide receiver in the first round. Namely, Justin Jefferson from Louisiana State University.
And when the 21st pick in the draft rolled around, Philadelphia indeed selected a receiver – Jalen Reagor from Texas Christian University. The Minnesota Vikings, who held the 22nd overall pick, could hardly believe their luck.
Coaches and front office personnel grinned and laughed in disbelief as they rang Jefferson to inform the receiver he would soon be a Viking.
Jefferson went on to break rookie receiving records in Minnesota and Reagor played just two seasons in Philadelphia before the team traded him in 2022.
Where did they send him to?
3 – The Ricky Williams Trade and McNabb’s Boos (1999)
The New Orleans Saints gave up a historic amount of draft capital in order to select running back Ricky Williams in the 1999 NFL Draft.
However, Philadelphia Eagles fans wanted their team to take Williams, so when quarterback Donovan McNabb was drafted by Philadelphia second overall, he wasn’t given the best reception.
McNabb was greeted on stage by a chorus of boos, while the Saints got their man and drafted Williams.
In hindsight, it was the best pick the Eagles could have made.
McNabb led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl appearance and is a member of the Eagles’ Hall of Fame. Williams, on the other hand, was traded to the Miami Dolphins after just three seasons in New Orleans.
2 – Rodgers Falls to Green Bay (2005)
Aaron Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall of Famer in waiting, so it’s hard to imagine teams passing up the opportunity to draft him – but that’s exactly what happened in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Rodgers’ hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers, held the first overall pick but, instead, selected Alex Smith. Rodgers, with every camera in the room pointed in his direction, sat and waited until the Green Bay Packers – whose roster still featured legendary quarterback Brett Favre – decided to select him with the 24th overall pick.
This wouldn’t be the last time the Packers would draft their quarterback of the future with a franchise legend still on the team. Green Bay traded up to select Jordan Love in 2020, and with Rodgers – like his predecessor Favre 15 years prior – departing to the New York Jets this week, Love finally has a chance to start this season.
1 – Manning Drafted By San Diego (2004)
Ahead of the 2004 NFL Draft, quarterback Eli Manning from Ole Miss claimed he would refuse to play for the San Diego Chargers if the team drafted him.
But this didn’t stop San Diego from selecting the quarterback with the first overall pick.
Manning, clearly upset by the decision, was booed mercilessly by the crowd as he posed with a Chargers jersey and smiled unconvincingly for the cameras.
Manning later stated at a press conference he would still never play for San Diego, only for someone to interrupt and drop a bombshell: The Chargers had reached a deal to send Manning to the New York Giants in exchange for three draft picks and quarterback Phillip Rivers – who the Giants drafted with the fourth pick.
Manning took to the stage once more, this time with a much wider smile, and displayed a Giants jersey before the eyes of the media. He would wear that jersey for the next 16 seasons, win two Super Bowls, and retire as a Giants legend.
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