Awkward moments have a way of sticking in your memory.
In 1998, tailback Jamal Anderson had an utterly fantastic season, running the football 410 times for 1846 yards and 14 touchdowns, to go along with 27 catches for 319 yards and an additional two receiving touchdowns. He piled on another 80 touches for 335 yards and three touchdowns in a playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl defeat at the hands of John Elway's Denver Broncos.
Anderson was a true workhorse back, a dominant force in the league, an All-Pro. But the following year, he spent almost the whole season recovering from an ACL tear in his right knee. He managed to play in 2000, but only gained 1024 yards on 3.6 yards per carry. Then three games into the following 2001 season, he tore the ACL in his left knee, to complete the set.
What many may not remember is that Anderson agreed to a restructured deal prior to entering free agency in 2002, in order to stick with the team. When free agency rolled around, Jamal watched as the team signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warrick Dunn to a large contract that dwarfed his own restructured deal.
Anderson tried to hide his frustration, but naturally wondered how this was going to work, since the Falcons told the press they planned to get Warrick about 20 touches per game. He planned to show up on owner Arthur Anderson's door step to have a little chat about the division of work load.
One way or another, the man nick named 'Jam' seemed to get on board with the idea of a "Thunder and Lightning" attack featuring himself and the speedy Dunn.
On draft weekend, Anderson functioned as a special player liaison meant to provide ESPN with color analysis of the Atlanta Falcons' draft picks. When the Falcons' pick No. 18 in the 1st round rolled around, the card they turned in had the name of tailback T.J. Duckett of Michigan State written on it.
Care to comment, Jam?
The pick was an absolute shock to most of the draft community, as well as Atlanta fans who had grown used to the idea of a dual-attack role featuring Dunn and Anderson. Though most tried to spin the pick as giving Duckett great role models to learn from and "taking the pressure off" him to contribute immediately, the writing was on the wall. The Falcons released 'Jam' on June 2nd that year, and his career essentially ended as he never took another carry.
Hidden needs have a way of surprising you when draft weekend rolls around.
From the Atlanta Falcons' point of view, some time between the signing of Warrick Dunn and the drafting of T.J. Duckett, they had decided that Jamal Anderson was not going to make it back from the ACL tears on both knees. They decided that where everyone else saw a tailback position that was full-up, there was really a need there.
Let's take a look at what may be some hidden needs on all 32 NFL teams: