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NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell and running back Mark Ingram

5 most touching NFL draft day moments of all-time

The NFL Draft can be an emotional event for many of the players involved, as well as their families. Prospects worked hard their entire lives and battled adversity with the dream of one day making it to the NFL. When the draft finally comes and their name eventually gets called, it can, sometimes, result in an overflowing of emotions. Here are five of the most touching moments in NFL Draft history.


5 most touching moments in NFL Draft history

#5 - Tyrann Mathieu

2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu was a superstar cornerback at LSU during his college football career. He was so dominant in his play-making abilities that he was a finalist for the 2011 Heisman Trophy, which is very difficult to do as a defensive player. The concerns teams had for Mathieu leading up to the draft weren't about his production, but his overall size and his off-the-field issues.

Mathieu found himself in trouble at LSU multiple times, including for marijuana charges and illegally receiving financial benefits. He was also labeled as undersized at 5'9" and 175 pounds. Despite all of these potential red flags, the Arizona Cardinals took a chance on him with the 69th overall pick in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

#4 - Todd Gurley

Rams draft running back Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley suffered a devastating knee injury with a torn ACL during his final college season with the Georgia Bulldogs. He is considered a generational talent at running back and was one of the highest-rated prospects of all time in the position.

After facing a torn ACL in his Junior Year, Todd Gurley entered the NFL draft and never looked back

Gurley was unsure how much the injury would affect his draft stock. The Rams decided to take a risk by selecting him as the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, overwhelming Gurley with a wide range of emotions.


5 most touching moments in NFL Draft history

#3 - James Conner

James Conner at the 2017 NFL Combine

James Conner faced a ton of unfortunate adversity during his college football career at Pitt. During the 2015 season, Conner suffered a knee injury, tearing his MCL. The injury would have been bad enough news, but it got worse as he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma while attending rehab for his knee.


His medical situation caused his draft stock to fall a bit, despite his talent as a prospect. Less than two years later, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him with the 105th pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Recovering from cancer and a serious knee injury was a difficult journey, making the selection emotional for him.

#2 - Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram at the 2011 NFL Combine

Mark Ingram was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 28th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft after an outstanding career with Alabama. What made this moment so special for Ingram was a letter that he received on draft day from his father, who was in prison at the time.

Reporter Suzy Kolber read the letter to Ingram, who was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. He responded directly to his father while live on television in an interview, making for a touching moment on NFL draft day.

#1 - Jim Kelly

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly

Often times, NFL legends are invited to draft day to announce a selection that was made by their former teams. Buffalo Bills legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was invited to present their second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He received a long standing ovation from the entire crowd, not just because of his contributions on the field, but because of his difficult battle off it.

VIDEO: Jim Kelly receives standing ovation at 2015 NFL Draft thesco.re/1I025lL http://t.co/LwcXwyDwV1

Jim Kelly was diagnosed with squamous-cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer in his mouth. Over the next two years, he went through several treatments as the cancer would come and go. He also contracted a MRSA infection. Leading up to the 2015 Draft, Kelly announced he was cancer free, sparking an ovation on draft day and creating a very emotional moment for all involved.

Edited by
Windy Goodloe
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