Has there ever been a genuine surprise in the draft?

Has anybody been drafted in the NFL that has been a total surprise? As in totally out of left field? Let’s leave out:

[li]The projected #1 pick dropped a slot or two, allowing another first-rounder to move up (Suh & Bush)[/li][li]Cases where players dropped due to criminal/character issues (Sapp & Moss)[/li][li]After-the-draft surprises (Brady & Warner or Leaf & Russell)[/li][/ul]

And let’s go beyond cases where a projected high first round has dropped to a low first round (Rodgers & Marino). I mean a TOTAL surprise; something Mel Kiper couldn’t have seen the day before:

Everyone’s scrambling around going “WHO?”
“With the 10th overall pick, the Rams select Joe Schmoe out of Slippery Rock.”

Or, on the other hand:
“How did All-American Marcus Smith fall from the first round to the 5th round today?”

Throw in the NBA, too.

I’m not sure if this quite fits the bill, but the Jack Lambert was the 46th pick in the 2nd round of the 1974 NFL draft…not exactly a high profile pick…and went on to become arguably the best middle linebacker of all time, with 9 Pro Bowl selections, 8 All Pro selections, and 4 Super Bowl championships in 11 seasons.

I should’ve titled the thread “Draft Day surprise”. Was he projected to go significantly higher/lower than 2nd round?

The Raiders drafted Mike Mitchel in the second round in 09. He was generally considered 7th round or free agent talent.

I heard supposedly there were couple other teams looking at him early, but I don’t know if that was confirmed. Mel Kiper was the only guy on ESPN’s desk who even recognized the name when the pick was announced. And ESPN.com didn’t even have him in the draft database. The selection sat empty for a long time while they were looking for someone to program him in I think.

Darko Miličić was chosen by the Pistons over Carmello Anthony, Dwane Wade, and Chrisi Bosh.

I was stunned.

You spelled correctly (I think) the Yugoslavian name, and misspelled the three Americans’ names.

I am stunned.

Shawn Bradley was selected 2nd overall after playing only one year of college ball and missing the previous two years on an LDS mission. Nobody had him that high. Nobody, that is, except the Sixers, who missed out on Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, and Allan Houston to take him.

I seem to remember stunned reactions from the ESPN guys when the Raiders grabbed Darrius Heyward-Bey for the seventh pick in 2009.

In the Kiper era, I don’t think the “Who?” question ever happens anymore.

In baseball I know that teams have been known to waste late draft picks on nobodies who have a family connection to the team, just to let them have the chance to say that they were drafted. But the baseball draft is a whole different animal…

The Raiders had already pulled a stunner earlier in the same draft by taking WR Darrius Heyward-Bey at #7 overall. Heyward-Bey was rated as a reach if picked at the end of the first round and a gamble in the second.

Tim Tebow - Denver traded up to get a pick that most thought would fall to them later in the draft.

Such as Mike Piazza by the Dodgers in like the 60th round-Tommy Lasorda knew him and his family before the draft.

“I’m shocked.” Mel Kiper on Darrius Heyward-Bey. Classic Al Davis though.

Everyone thought the Pistons were going to make that pick. Darko was a consensus top-5 pick that year.

The Raiders drafting a kicker in the first round in 2000 had to be a shocker, right? I mean - no kickers are ever seriously in the discussion for anything more than a 4th or 5th round pick.

I wouldn’t say Darko, either. IIRC, the NBA draft was really played up as a three-way.

LeBron: best high school player; hyped since kindergarten.
Carmello: Freshman led his team to the NCAA title
Darko: European leagues were tougher than high school or college ball (and maybe the NBA as the 2004 Olympics would later show).

In hindsight, things didn’t work out so well for Darko. But he falls into my third exception: players who performed worse or better after the draft. A draft-day surprise would’ve been for Ryan Leaf to fall to the 4th round or see Northern Iowa’s Kurt Warner get drafted in the first.

Heyward-Bey and Mitchell above are what I was looking for.

I’m not sure how much of a total surprise it was to those in the know, but the collective response in Sacramento was “who?!?” when the Kings drafted “PRE-drag Stoy-a-KO-vich” in the 1996 NBA draft. He would eventually go on to become Peja Stojakovic, but nobody seemed to know who he was at the time…

There was a lot of surprise when the Jets drafted Ken O’Brien when Dan Marino was still available. When Rozelle said, "New York, a quarterback . . . . " everyone in the room thought it would be Marino.

O’Brien was a good quarterback, but no Marino.

Jimmy Clausen plummeting down the draft board a few years ago was a shock to everyone. No one expected a top 10 pick or anything - but there were a handful of teams that needed a QB who picked in the middle of the 1st round. He ended up going in the 2nd round. Combined with Denver’s Tebow pick, that was a weird draft.

The Bucs, in the bad old days, used to do this all of the time. The classic example:

True surprises are extremely rare nowadays.

Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the Dallas Cowboys had a much bigger scouting staff and did a LOT more research into college players than most other teams (they were, famously, the first team to use a computer). As a result, they regularly drafted unheralded players from relatively small schools, and people were often shocked when those guys turned out to be good- Calvin Hill of Yale and Duane Thomas of West Texas State, for instance.

A few other teams TRIED to follow suit- the most famous example being the New York Giants who drafted Rocky Thompson in the first round in 1972. Nobody had any idea who Rocky Thompson was- and he turned out to be absolutely horrible.

One other surprise: Ray Guy was a very highly rated college punter in 1973, and MAY be elected to the Hall of Fame one day… but it was still a big surprise when the Raiders took a punter in the first round. Teams almost never take kickers or punters that early.
Since then? Well, today, EVERY team has an extensive scouting system, players from ALL schools are scouted and evaluated and sent to combines, so it’s ALMOST impossible for a phenomenal college football player to fly completely under the radar. Teams still guess wrong regularly, but you’ll never see anyone taking a huge chance and drafting someone the rest of the league has never even heard of.

Back in 1972, Rocky Thompson was a true stunner. Today, at most, a team may take a guy in the late 1st round that everyone else had pencilled in as a 3rd rounder. That’s not the same level of surprise!