NFL Draft: Alabama safety Jaylen Key is 'Mr. Irrelevant' as Jets take him with final pick

Jaylen Key wasn't anywhere on the NFL's radar just a couple years ago. Being drafted Saturday, even with the final pick of the NFL Draft, shows how far he came his final two college seasons.

Key, a safety from Alabama, was the final pick of the draft to the New York Jets at 257th overall. He will get the traditional celebration in California as a part of Irrelevant Week, which honors "Mr. Irrelevant," the final pick of the draft. Melanie Salata-Fitch, the CEO of Irrelevant Week, announced the pick to wrap up the draft.

The Jets had the last pick of the draft, and they refused to trade the pick to the Denver Broncos in a deal for quarterback Zach Wilson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It ended up being Key, who wasn't even a starter at UAB for his first three college seasons.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy made Mr. Irrelevant famous in 2022. Key hopes to keep the good vibes going.

Key was a late bloomer as a college player.

He started his career at UAB and played four seasons there. He transferred to Alabama for his final college season.

At UAB, he didn’t become a regular starter until his fourth season, when he had a breakout season with 60 tackles and three interceptions.

At Alabama, Key got a starting spot on one of the most talented teams in college football. He again had 60 tackles, starting for most of the season.

There have been success stories from the final pick of the draft. Desjuan Johnson, the 2023 Mr. Irrelevant, didn't reach the heights of Purdy as a rookie but he made the Los Angeles Rams' roster and appeared in 11 games. That's not too bad for the final pick of the NFL Draft.

Johnson, a defensive end out of Toledo, had two sacks for the Rams last season. He'll have plenty of competition to make the roster this season, considering the Rams used their first two picks in the 2024 NFL Draft on defensive linemen, but he managed to make it last season.

Making the Jets' roster is Key's first goal as a pro.

Alabama defensive back Jaylen Key was the final pick of the NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
Alabama defensive back Jaylen Key was the final pick of the NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

Purdy did more for the visibility of Mr. Irrelevant than all the other final picks of the NFL Draft combined. That's what happens when you are the starting quarterback in a Super Bowl out of the final pick.

There's a lot of fun in store for Mr. Irrelevant. The perks include a week-long celebration in Newport Beach, California. There's a "Lowsman Banquet," a Disneyland trip and other events.

Before Purdy, the most successful Mr. Irrelevant was kicker Ryan Succop, who had a 14-year career with three teams but wasn't on a roster in 2023. There have been other Mr. Irrelevants to make rosters as rookies and stick in the NFL a while.

Key wasn't drafted earlier because he's not a dynamic athlete and didn't have a ton of college production. But he's getting a chance with the Jets. That's a long way from where he was as a player two years ago.