Thoughts on Jamal Reynolds

In my day job as a mild-mannered news reporter (as opposed to my night job as a mild-mannered sports blogger), I did a report today on some of the history between the Packers and Seahawks. The two teams, if you haven't heard by now, will meet in the NFL's marquee opening week Thursday night game.

While doing some quick research on the connections between the Packers and Seahawks, the Matt Hasselbeck trade came to mind. It never struck me what an unmitigated disaster that worked out to be. On paper, it wouldn't have been a terrible thing for the Packers to trade up in that draft. It was a relatively loaded class, and moving up by getting rid of a back up quarterback seemed like a pretty good idea.

But then they picked Jamal Reynolds, who would exit the league after three seasons, eighteen games, and just three sacks. Injuries played a role, but by any stretch of the imagination, he was a bust.

Picking Reynolds wasn't unjustified. Check out this scouting report from Football's Future:

Jamal Reynolds has all the skills needed to become a dominating defensive end in the NFL. Many scouts have compared Reynolds to another Florida State star, Peter Boulware. He has unbelievable quickness and agility, which he uses to put tremendous pressure on the quarterback or pursue a running back. Despite being undersized for a defensive lineman he defends the run well and plays bigger then his 250-pound frame. Some scouts are worried about him wearing down over the course of a game and might want to turn him into a hybrid pass rushing linebacker. While Reynolds would excel at this position his true value is at the defensive end position. Reynolds should be an impact player at the next level and where he ends up being drafted will largely depend on how "big" he is during his individual workouts. If he weighs in under 250, he'll scare off a lot of NFL teams as they will see him as a pass rush specialist.

Of course, it didn't work out that way. Instead, the Packers ended up taking a basically worthless pass rusher instead of these players who turned out to be actually useful: Dan Morgan, Santana Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, Casey Hampton, Nate Clements, Ryan Pickett, Reggie Wayne, and Todd Heap.

Oh, and to make matters worse, the Packers picked Torrance Marshall with the third round pick they got from Seattle. Steve Smith went two picks later.

I want to be frustrated about Jamal Reynolds not being any good, but so much of what happened to him was out of his control. He got hurt in training camp as a rookie, hurt again later that season, and hurt basically every few weeks of his career after that. Basically if you're reading this, Jamal Reynolds just got hurt.

An injury ultimately ended his career, as is detailed in this article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. You can hear the frustration in his words as he wonders what could have been. Could he have been an NFL star if he'd avoided injury? Maybe, maybe not. But he'll never know. What's that like?

Most of us will never know what it's like to be an NFL star, but most of us will never have that opportunity. Jamal Reynolds did, and he missed his chance. Now, he can't even Google his own name without seeing an article about how he's one of the biggest busts in the last 30 years. It may be true, but that's a heck of a way to be remembered.