Did an NFL Team Drop Two Spots in the Draft Because They Didn’t Have Their Pick Ready in Time?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A team dropped two spots in the draft because they missed their initial pick.

Ahead of tonight’s NFL Draft, I’m continuing looking at some legends involving the draft.

This one involves the strange tale of the 2003 NFL Draft and how the Minnesota Vikings ended up getting the ninth pick in the draft instead of the seventh pick.

The story of the Vikings’ screw-up in the 2003 NFL Draft is especially momentous because it affected not just the Vikings but THREE other NFL teams.

The Vikings had the seventh overall pick in the draft while the Baltimore Ravens had the tenth pick.

The Ravens were struggling at the quarterback position after winning the Super Bowl in 2001 with Trent Dilfer under center. They made a big signing of Elvis Grbac, who only lasted a single season. They then tried to make due with Jeff Blake, Chris Redman, Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright. Boller was to be their starter for 2003, but they were very interested in moving up to #7 in the draft and taking standout Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich.

So the Vikings worked out a deal where the Ravens would deal their #10 pick and picks in the fourth and fifth rounds in exchange for the VIkings’ #7 pick.

The Vikings submitted the trade to the league with about 32 seconds left on their 15-minute time limit each team gets to make their pick, but the league didn’t accept it. Instead, the next team in the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars, suddenly were free to make a pick. They took Leftwich themselves.

While the Vikings argued that a deal had been consumated, the Carolina Panthers swooped in and made a pick, netting themselves tackle Jordan Gross…

As it turned out, the Ravens never officially agreed on the deal. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome told the Associated Press, “The deal was not consummated. A deal is not a deal until I talk to [NFL official] Joel Bussert, and I never talked to Joel Bussert.” Some Baltimore team sources indicated that Baltimore TRIED to contact the league but had problems getting through. The NFL denied that claim.

The flustered Vikings ultimately made their pick, taking defender Kevin Williams, who they planned on taking with the #10 pick…

The Ravens then ended up with Terrell Suggs at #10…

As you might have noticed, the two best players out of all of these picks were the ones taken by the Ravens and the Vikings, which each ended up with likely Hall of Fame defenders. Carolina ended up with a Pro-Bowler in Gross. The only team that was ultimately disappointed was the team that thought that they had been given pennies from heaven, as Leftwich did not turn out to be quite as good as expected (although he had a long career in the NFL, playing ten seasons, so it’s not like he was a bust).

Of course, this doesn’t count the fourth and fifth rounders the Vikings could have received (the Ravens selected Jarrett Johnson and Aubrayo Franklin with those picks).

Still, the key thing is to think of how different things would have been had Leftwich ended up in Baltimore. Since Suggs ended up being a longtime stalwart for them, including their Super Bowl winning team in 2013, things definitely would have changed dramatically. Heck, do they even draft Joe Flacco in 2008? Crazy “What If…?” stuff here.

the legend is…

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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