With the 48th and final selection in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft, number 254 overall, the Indianapolis Colts selected Justice Hamilton.. Wait.. No. Cunningham! Justice Cunningham!
The love that Mr. Irrelevant—the title given to the final person selected in each of the last 38 drafts—gets is pretty incredible. Hamilton gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Southern California for “Irrelevant Week” where he’ll be awarded the Lowsman Trophy and get to go to various events at Disneyland.
So who is this Hamil—pardon me—Cunningham character, anyway?
The 6’3″ 258 lb. tight end out of South Carolina is known for his blocking, but also caught 23 passes for 324 yards this season for the Gamecocks.
“He’s a pretty good thumper as a blocker,” according to Mike Mayock on NFL.com. “A better athlete than you think for his body. He has the ability to finish in the end zone. I’m happy to see him get an opportunity. He just needs to be more consistent as a player.”
More from the League’s Draft center.
Cunningham attended Central High School in Pageland, South Carolina. In 2009, he earned First-Team All-State honors. He helped Central reach the 2008 Class AA state finals and a 14-1 record playing both tight end and defensive end. Cunningham collected 20 sacks in his senior year, but was deemed to be a better tight end prospect, mostly due to his blocking skills. Cunningham also excelled in basketball. He chose South Carolina over Michigan State and North Carolina State.
Cunningham saw the field right away in two tight end sets. He was mainly in to block, so he caught just two passes for 23 yards on the year. In 2010, Cunningham earned the Steve Sisk Outstanding Blocker Award in the spring. He played in all 14 games, and logged two starts, while recording seven catches for 92 yards. As a junior, Cunningham played in all 13 games and made eight starts. He caught 18 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. In 2012, Cunningham played in nine games, and caught 23 passes for 324 yards.
STRENGTHS. Very good blocker, acts as a third offensive tackle at times. Quick hands and light feet. Powerful punch, and can get a push or turn the shoulder of defenders. Savvy route running, sells body fakes to create separation. Adjusts well to the football.
WEAKNESSES. Not an explosive athlete. Doesn’t jump off the line of scrimmage. Not very fast, won’t consistently threaten the seam. Doesn’t always make catches off his body. Lacks great height and length. Limited production.
NFL COMPARISON. Kevin Boss
BOTTOM LINE. Cunningham has seen a lot of playing time for South Carolina due to his skills as a run blocker and pass blocker, but he has been underutilized as a receiving threat. While he’s far from a dynamic athlete, he shows enough skills to get open and make catches. He should stick in the NFL, if for nothing else besides his blocking.
Cunningham joins another Mr. Irrelevant in Indy, Chandler Harnish, who was taken last by the Colts in the 2012 Draft.