Jamal Reynolds: Honorable Mention (NFL)

Synopsis:  Excluding the strip sack in the featured imagine, former Packers DE Jamal Reynolds tallied 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble in his unproductive 18-game NFL career. Including the play, Reynolds’ career 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 somehow, we act surprised when football players ignore injuries or concussions. I wonder if Alex Smith knows the feeling?


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.

Reynolds stumbled out of the gate and missed the first ten games of his rookie season due to assorted injuries. The 2001 10th overall pick couldn’t get on the field after recovering from them because Kabeer Gbaja-Bimili filled in nicely. Of note, the 2000 5th round pick finished the year with 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

According to folklore, Wally Pipp’s career as a New York Yankee ended after he skipped a game because of a headache, His replacement that day, Lou Gehrig, didn’t relinquish the starting job for the next 14 seasons. Just like the Iron Horse, Gbaja-Bimili produced when given the chance. As such, he stayed in the starting lineup 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. 

Despite being an early 1st round pick, Reynolds only played in 18 games (with zero starts) from 2001-2003. Even when healthy enough to get on the field, he couldn’t seem to produce and only recorded three sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in those games.

Jamal Reynolds
2 for 1 Special: With this strip sack, 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 NFL career ended.

With a Weighted Career Approximate Value (WCAV) of 3, Reynolds certainly qualifies as a bust. Of note, he recorded the lowest WCAV 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, I granted him the Steve Emtman Exemption.


Now back to that trade. In order to move up seven spots in the 2001 NFL Draft, the Packers traded their backup quarterback to the Seahawks. At the time, 3x MVP Brett Favre had started over 150 consecutive games so Green Bay really didn’t need a backup. Still, the price was steep. Seattle got a player who became their starting QB for the next ten years. That player was 3x Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck. After leaving the Packers, Elisabeth’s brother-in-law produced a WCAV of 88.

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 WCAV of 96.

The Packers also picked up the Seahawks’ 2001 3rd round pick as part of the trade. With the pick, Green Bay selected linebacker Torrance Marshall, who had a WCAV of 7. To summarize, Seattle picked up players with a combined WCAV of 184 while the Packers picked up players with a combined WCAV of 10. Even if you don’t fully understand the concept of WCAV (click here if you care to), hopefully you can appreciate that Hasselbeck and Hutchinson offered over 18x more production than Reynolds and Marshall.

As previously established, I granted Jamal Reynolds an exemption from being declared a Top 10 Bust. It’s still 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 deserves an Honorable Mention.

ADDENDUM (As of September 2018)

I included a reference to former 49ers QB Alex Smith in the summary. At the time of the original post four years ago, I rhetorically questioned whether Smith understood why someone might ignore an injury or concussion. Two years earlier, the former 2005 #1 overall pick sat out two games after suffering a concussion. Prior to the head trauma, Smith had a 6-2-1 record and a passer rating of 104 over halfway through the 2012 NFL season. As a point of reference, a passer rating that high is really, really good. Aaron Rodgers has the highest career passer rating of just under 104.

Similar to how Lou Gehrig and Kabeer Gbaja-Bimili took advantage of their moments, Colin Kaepernick filled in well for Alex Smith. I felt bad for Smith when he lost his starting job after reporting a concussion. Still, I fully understood 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s decision to ride the hot hand/feet into the playoffs. Jim ultimately lost to brother John, who coached Baltimore to a victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, but it’s hard to argue that the 49ers would have done that well with Smith under center.

When I wrote this post, Kaepernick had a career record of 19-8 and seemed poised to become one of the top 5 QBs in the NFL. After the post, however, he compiled a starting record of 9-22. I’m not claiming to have known that teams would understand how to neutralize the dynamic quarterback. At the same time, I had no idea that he would be able to neutralize himself more than any defensive schematic.

In the midst of a having a diminished role after Jim Harbaugh returned to the college ranks to coach his alma mater (i.e. Univ. of Michigan), Kaepernick went from potential NFL great to potential second-string quarterback. In a presumed protest against police injustice towards black people, Kaepernick started to kneel during the National Anthem before games. After seeing a cover story about him in Time Magazine, I researched the matter and realized that I needed to write an article busting his true motives. 

During Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season, Nike decided to make Kaepernick a “cause célèbre” and included him in its new Just Do It campaign. I fully appreciate that Nike must have performed extensive market research and believes that he will help them sell more product. At the same time, I remember Coke performed extensive market research before introducing New Coke in the 1980s. Just like Coke missed the mark back then, Nike has missed the mark today. I may be wrong, but time will tell.