TAMPA, Fla. - The last player chosen in each year's NFL draft is dubbed "Mr. Irrelevant." It's a tradition that goes back years. The fact that "Mr." precedes "Irrelevant" does not make the moniker any more appealing.
By virtue of being Super Bowl champs, the Buccaneers had the last pick in every round. And they used the last pick overall to choose Grant Stuard of the University of Houston. He instantly became Mr. Irrelevant.
Stuard is blessed with plus speed at the linebacker position. His ultimate value to the team will be determined by how well he is able to contribute on special teams this preseason.
He is confident, but not cocky, about his ability to succeed in the area of kick coverage.
"It's very tough to match up with me with 30 yards of space between us," he said. "If you're a defensive back or receiver, I'm stronger than you. If you're a linebacker or a tight end, I'm faster than you. I really feel like I'm unblockable in that area of the game, so I'm trying to be one of the best players in the league, year one, in that area of football."
In addition to 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Stuard is blessed with an exceptional head for the game. Bruce Arians said after Stuard's first rookie minicamps that the kid "looks very, very bright."
Fans will instantly notice the impressive head of hair that spills out from underneath his helmet. It completely obscures the nameplate on the back of his number 48 jersey.
His more famous teammates don't need to read the back of his jersey, though, to know who Grant Stuard is. And they don't call him Mr. Irrelevant.
"I saw Gronk in the hallway," Stuard recalled. "I was like, 'What's up?' He was like, 'What's up man?' And he just kept walking. So, yeah, it was cool."
Cooler still will be the day Stuard gets to share the field with superstars during mandatory minicamp running form June 7 until June 9.