Ex-Arkansas Defensive End Named Worst Falcons Draft Pick of PFF Era

Jamaal Anderson

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Jamaal Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons during opening day of training camp on July 30, 2010.

Analytics don’t always tell the whole story, but in the case of former Atlanta Falcons first-round pick Jamaal Anderson, they paint an ugly picture.

“Few edge rushers in PFF history have been as ineffective as [Jamaal] Anderson during his time in the league, as he managed only five sacks on nearly 1,400 pass-rushing snaps in his four years with the Falcons.” That’s the main rationale behind Pro Football Focus naming Anderson as the worst draft pick of the PFF era (which dates back to 2006).

“… Yes, we know sacks aren’t everything, but that ineffectiveness is backed up by the fact that he never earned a pass-rushing grade higher than 61.5 …,” adds PFF’s Michael Renner.

Jamaal Anderson’s NFL Career Lasted Six Seasons

Jamaal Anderson was selected No. 8 overall by the Falcons out of the University of Arkansas in 2007. The idea was that he would pair with John Abraham to provide new head coach Bobby Petrino with a dominant pass rushing duo, but that never materialized and he ultimately moved inside to defensive tackle.

All told, he played in 60 games for the Falcons (2007-2010), with 47 starts. Within that time frame he produced just 105 total tackles (83 solo), with 4.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 19 quarterback hits, nine passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

After getting released by the Falcons he spent a season with the Indianapolis Colts (2011) and then a year with the Cincinnati Bengals (2012), most of which was spent on injured reserve after he suffered a torn quadriceps in a win over the Cleveland Browns. He received one last chance with the Chicago Bears in 2013 but got cut in mid-August, marking the end of his NFL career, which spanned a total of 77 games and produced just 7.5 sacks.

The list of players taken shortly after Anderson is painful to peruse. It includes linebacker Patrick Willis (San Francisco 49ers, No. 11 overall), running back Marshawn Lynch (Buffalo Bills, No. 12 overall), cornerback Darrelle Revis (New York Jets, No. 14 overall) and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 15 overall), all four of whom went on to be Pro Bowl players.

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The Rest of the NFC South

In terms of the worst draft picks by the other teams in Atlanta’s division, PFF “likes” defensive lineman Vernon Butler, who the Carolina Panthers selected No. 30 overall in 2016 out of Louisiana Tech. For the Saints, its defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis (USC), who went No. 7 overall in 2008. The worst pick of the Tampa Bay Bucs was deemed to be Mark Barron, taken No. 7 overall out of Alabama in 2012.

Barron went on to achieve greater success as a linebacker after being traded from the Bucs to the Rams in 2014. He was adequate for the Steelers in 2019 and signed with the Broncos in 2020, but was repeatedly injured in practice and Denver finally cut ties with him at the end of last year.

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