HOUSTON — 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 honoured 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.”
The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Ballentine had 58 tackles last season for the Tigers. Houston coach Bill O’Brien was excited about adding him to his team.
“He’s a guy that can run,” O’Brien said. “He’s a guy that’s a physical player so to me he’s a versatile guy that can obviously help us on defence but maybe go down in the box a little bit in a linebacker-type position and obviously special teams. He was a guy that we had targeted.”
He said he watched the entire draft in excruciating suspense.
“Every pick,” he said. “I see 255 guys go by and I’m like: ‘Ah man this is not good.”‘
But after he was drafted he was glad he did that.
“I wanted to see every player that went in front of me and I’m going to remember that and that’s how I’m going to work and be motivated to come in and prove everyone wrong,” he said.