Honorable Mention

Jamal Reynolds: Honorable Mention (NFL)

Synopsis:  When one play accounts for 1/3 of your career total for sacks and 1/2 of your career total for forced fumbles, you didn’t have a good career. Specifically, I’m referencing Jamal Reynolds and his totals of three sacks and two forced fumbles in 18 career games. Basically, those numbers could be confused with J.J. Watt’s totals from one game. As the 10th overall pick in the 2001 Draft, Reynolds got off to a slow start because of assorted injuries. Even after recovering, he couldn’t get on the field because his replacement played too well. And we’re expected to wonder why football players play injured or concussed. I wonder if Alex Smith agrees?


Jamal Reynolds came out of Florida State as a highly touted defensive lineman. A consensus First-Team All-American, Reynolds won the Lombardi Award as the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Lineman. Despite being relatively small (6’3” and 260 lbs.), he relied on his quickness to get by bigger offensive linemen. Unswayed by Reynolds’ size, the Packers took him 10th overall in the 2001 draft. In fact, they even traded a future Pro Bowl quarterback just to move up seven spots just to get him. But more about the trade later.

As a rookie, Reynolds stumbled out of the gate and missed the first ten games due to assorted injuries. Over the remainder of the season, he saw limited playing because his replacement, Kabeer Gbaja-Bimili, filled in nicely. Specifically, Gbaja-Bimili finished the year with 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

According to folklore, Wally Pipp’s career as a New York Yankee ended because of a headache, In particular, his replacement that day, Lou Gehrig, went on to play in 2,130 consecutive games. Just like Gehrig, Gbaja-Bimili produced when given the chance. As such, he stayed in the starting line-up even after the person he replaced got healthy. From 2001-04, Gbaja-Bimili averaged over 12 sacks per year and even made it to one Pro Bowl. 

In contrast, Reynolds’ only played in 18 games (with zero starts) from 2001-2003. Even when healthy enough to get on the field, Reynolds couldn’t seem to produce. For instance, he totaled only three sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in those games.

Jamal Reynolds
2 for 1 Special: A sack and a forced fumble. Reynolds increased his career totals by 40% on this one play. It would have been by 60% had he recovered the ball.

Due to limited production on the field, Reynolds became expendable. Prior to the 2004 season, the Packers attempted to trade him to the Colts. However, Indianapolis voided the trade when Reynolds failed a physical because of a slipped disc. After an unsuccessful try-out with the Browns, his career effectively ended before it even started.

With a Weighted Average Value (WAV) of 2 in his career, Reynolds certainly qualifies as a bust. Of note, he had the lowest WAV for any of the first 50 overall players selected in 2001. Given the lost time/opportunities resulting from numerous injuries, however, he avoided the label of Top 10 Bust. Specifically, he earned the Steve Emtman Exemption.


Now back to that trade. In order to move up seven spots in the draft, the Packers traded their back-up quarterback to the Seahawks. At the time, 3x MVP Brett Favre had started over 150 consecutive games so Green Bay didn’t really need a back-up. Still, the price was steep. In particular, Seattle got someone who became their starting QB for the next ten years. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the player was 3x Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck. After leaving the Packers, Elisabeth’s brother-in-law produced a WAV of 84.

Matt Hasselbeck’s Sister-In-Law

With Green Bay’s original 1st round pick, Seattle selected 5x First-Team All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson. During his 12-year career, Hutchinson made seven Pro Bowls and had a WAV of 96.

As part of the trade, the Packers also picked up the Seahawks’ 2001 3rd round pick. With the pick, Green Bay selected linebacker Torrance Marshall, who had a career WAV of 7. To summarize, Seattle picked up players with a combined WAV of 180 while the Packers picked up players with a combined WAV of 9. Even if you don’t fully understand the concept of WAV, you should be able to appreciate that Hasselbeck and Hutchinson offered 20 times more production than Reynolds and Marshall.

As previously established, I granted Jamal Reynolds an exemption from being declared a Top 10 Bust. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore his abysmal production and the incredible disparity in value from the trade engineered to get him to Green Bay. As such, he has earned an Honorable Mention.


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