Three days after Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh held up a No. 1 Lions jersey as the second overall pick in the NFL draft, someone held up another Lions jersey on stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
On this one, duct tape covered the No. 1 in the shape of an “I,” honoring Mr. Irrelevant, the 255th and final pick in the NFL draft, Weber State wide receiver Tim Toone.
Paul Salata made the announcement as he traditionally does. He is the founder of Irrelevant Week, an annual five-day bash in Newport Beach, Calif., for the last man drafted. Why? To do something nice for no reason at all.
“I think it’ll be fun,” Toone said. “Just having fun with the whole situation will be a great opportunity.”
But just because Toone is Mr. Irrelevant doesn’t mean he will be irrelevant. The Lions made Alabama cornerback Ramzee Robinson the last pick (255th overall) in 2007, and after the parade and banquet and other events in Newport, he played 19 games for them. He has gone on to play for the Eagles and Browns.
Coach Jim Schwartz thinks Toone could be as popular as the colorful, intense linebacker the Lions picked in the seventh round (235th overall) last year.
“Zack Follett’s going to have some competition for new favorite player, new cult hero in Detroit,” Schwartz said, pointing out Toone not only had a lot of big numbers and honors from college, but was a “white guy with dreadlocks.”
“I hope the fans will see the same thing that we saw in him,” Schwartz said.
Toone, 5-feet-10, 175 185 pounds, is 25 years old, having served a two-year Mormon mission in West Africa. He’s speedy. He had 95- and 90-yard punt returns for touchdowns in college.
“A lot of people tell me I’m like Wes Welker,” Toone said. “Having him in the league has helped me out a lot because he’s not the biggest guy, but he’s a hard worker, he runs great routes, he’s quick. That’s why people compare me to him, because I work hard. I try to find open holes and do everything I can to help the team win.”
Lions rebuilding in unusual way
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions knew they had to use the draft to help rebuild a franchise that has only won two games in the last two years.
They just didn't do it in the traditional way.
Detroit traded five of their seven draft picks, helping them pick up several veterans and an extra first-rounder, but leaving them with just two picks between the second and sixth rounds.
Before the draft, the Lions made five trades, giving up 2010 picks and linebacker Ernie Sims for draft choices and veterans including defensive tackle Corey Williams, cornerback Chris Houston, guard Rob Sims and tight end Tony Scheffler.
"When we were sitting there watching the clock with no picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, we kept reminding ourselves that we had added starting players with those picks," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said after the draft ended Saturday evening. "We picked up veteran players with experience for lower-round picks, which is something you can't get through the draft."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz felt that the Lions are clearly improved because of the addition of those veterans — along with free-agent signing Nate Burleson and first-round picks Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best.
"We're a better team than we were at the end of last season — that's for sure," he said. "We've been very aggressive about adding to our talent base in the two offseasons that we've been here, and I think we've done a nice job of it."
The Lions started the draft's final day by taking Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox with the 30th pick of the fourth round.
"We're excited about getting Jason — this is a kid who was a four-year starter at Miami," Lions offensive line coach George Yarno said. "He can play either tackle and, even though he's tall at 6-foot-7, we think he can play guard as well. Right now, we're looking at him as our third tackle."
Fox missed Miami's appearance in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl after having minor knee surgery, then pulled a hamstring during his pro-day workout.
"My knee probably affected my draft status a bit, but I went in the fourth round, so it could have been a lot worse," he said. "I think I'm very close to 100 percent right now, and I'll be ready for whatever they need."
Fox also missed one game last season with an irregular heartbeat, but insists it isn't an issue going forward.
"I'd really prefer not to get into that," he said. "It was a fluke one-day thing that will never happen again. I've had several stress tests and they've all come back clear."
Detroit, which didn't pick in the fifth or sixth rounds, started the day with three seventh-round selections, but dealt one to Philadelphia for a sixth-round choice next season. With the 214th overall pick, they took North Carolina State defensive end Willie Young, and with the day's last choice — No. 255, this year's alleged Mr. Irrelevant — they selected Weber State receiver Tim Toone.
"We didn't anticipate taking a defensive end today, but we had Willie Young so high on our board that it was just a great value when he was still available," Schwartz said. "Then to finish off the day, we got a guy who I think is going to be a cult hero in this town in Tim Toone. He's a little white guy with dreadlocks who can really run and is an exciting returner."
Toone led the Big Sky Conference in punt returns at 19.9 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.
"I had a 90-yarder for a touchdown and a 95-yarder for a touchdown, so I guess that really helped my average," said Toone, who also served two years in West Africa on a Mormon mission. "After that, teams pretty much stopped kicking the ball to me."
After getting Suh and Best in the first day of the new three-day draft, Detroit's only second-day pick was third-rounder Iowa cornerback Amari Spievey.
"This was a long process," Mayhew said. "But I know we are a better team right now than we were Wednesday, and that's the important thing."
Cavs vs. Bulls Free Spread Pick
Tim Toone may be Mr. Irrelevant, but From ScoresOddsPicks, here is the Sunday free pick that bookmakers wish were ignored.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls – Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET
The Bulls apparently aren’t going to go down without a fight after beating Cleveland 108-106 on Thursday. Chicago covered as a 4.5-point underdog and, although it doesn’t have much of a chance to win this series, the team is building momentum at the sportsbook. The Bulls are 5-1 in their last six games against the spread. They’re been solid if unspectacular at home, going 6-4 ATS in their last 10 home games. Derrick Rose led the way in Game 3, racking up 31 points and seven assists.
Cleveland is struggling at the sportsbook. The Cavaliers have covered just three times in their last 10 games on NBA betting lines. Playing another game in Chicago certainly won’t help matters, as Cleveland is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games away from home. LeBron James was excellent in defeat, scoring 39 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
The Game 3 upset was fun for Bulls fans, but it means the Cavaliers will come out angry in Game 4. LeBron and Co. should make this an ugly one for Chicago—and a win for NBA betting fans taking the Cavs.