When the seventh round of the NFL Draft rolls around, viewers are always on the edge of their seats to determine the recipient of a certain title — Mr. Irrelevant.
The moniker is utilized to describe the final pick of the NFL Draft, and for 2023, that designation belongs to Toledo defensive end Desjuan Johnson, who landed at pick No. 259 to the Los Angeles Rams. Johnson was the first (and last) Toledo Rocket selected in the draft, and the ninth pick to graduate to the NFL since Jason Candle became head coach of the program in 2016.
2022’s Mr. Irrelevant was former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship as a rookie — signaling the immediate impact a Mr. Irrelevant like Johnson could have at the professional level.
Johnson primarily played defensive tackle (1-tech and 3-tech) at Toledo, but his six-foot-two, 285-pound size suggests he may be suited more as a defensive end in the NFL. He was a force on a stacked Toledo front seven and attained All-MAC honors in three consecutive seasons. Johnson was named second-team all-MAC in 2020 and 2021, before upgrading to first-team honors as a senior in 2022.
His final two seasons with Toledo were spectacular, registering 4.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2021 before ballooning those totals to 5.5 and 16.5 respectively in 2022. Johnson also played a hand in the turnover battle with the Rockets by forcing two fumbles and picking off one pass in his final two years with the program. The star defender rode off into the sunset in spectacular fashion by capping off a stellar Toledo stint with a MAC championship and bowl victory.
While he was not invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Johnson impressed at Pro Day with his fleet-footed quickness, posting a remarkable 10-yard split and shining in the shuttle run. He received an additional opportunity to acquaint himself with NFL scouts by participating at the East-West Shrine Game in Las Vegas.
For a deeper analysis on how the 2023 Mr. Irrelevant can have an impact at the NFL level, you can read our prospect profile on Johnson here.
Johnson joins a Los Angeles Rams defensive line spearheaded by future Hall of Famer and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. The Rams addressed the defensive line earlier in the draft by selecting Kobie Turner out of Wake Forest in the third round. As a seventh round pick, the majority of Johnson’s snaps as a rookie should transpire on special teams should he see on-field action. But he’ll become an instant fan favorite due to the status of being the 2023 Mr. Irrelevant.
Whether he becomes more than that will be up to him.