“The Kansas City Chiefs select, with the third pick in the National Football League Amateur Draft…” If you were anything like me, not only did this moment take WAY too long to pass, but you could see NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mouth annunciating Aaron Curry’s name. After all, we are Seattle fans, unable to imagine a player of Curry’s caliber donning the highlighter green and blue.
“Tyson Jackson, Louisiana State University.” Elation. Joy. Yelling.
We had it, the opportunity to take the best player in the draft, and we did. It was hard not to get swept up in the moment as Curry broke into tears.
As he stood on the stage and put on the ugliest hat at the draft, it was even harder not to swell with pride at the opportunity to watch this dynamic personality suit up on Sundays.
So when he does suit up on Sundays, what is to be expected? Obviously no one expects a bust, but with the money being invested, the pick he was taken at, and the expectations of many being placed firmly on a 23-year-old. At least he knows what he is getting into.
“I know there is a responsibility as a first run pick to definitely come in and be an impact player right away.” Curry said at his press conference announcing him as a Seahawk, “I have faith in my work ethic and faith in the coaching staff to make me a great player.”
In the last six years, no linebacker has been drafted as high as Curry (fourth). In 2006, AJ Hawk was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the fifth overall pick which wasthe closest; the next closest being Keith Rivers being selected ninth in the 2008 draft by the Bengals.
The last time a linebacker was taken in the top four picks was when Washington selected Lavar Arrington second overall in the 2000 draft.
The best case scenario
Recent first round linebackers have had very successful first seasons, but none better than Patrick Willis for the 49ers in 2007. Seahawks fans should (unfortunately) remember well the 9ers taking Willis with the 11th overall pick from Ole Miss. He hit the league, and opposing ball carriers, like a ton of bricks, racking up 174 tackles, four sacks, and a defensive rookie of the year award. If Curry could hit the ground running like this, #59 jerseys would be going for $200 a piece.
The worst case scenario
There have been a few busts in recent memory. Two stand out from the pack.
First, When the Cowboys drafted Anthony Spencer at the end of the first round (26th) in 2007, I’m sure they were expecting more than they received. Spencer, who had 26.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage his senior season for Purdue, promptly underperformed accumulating only 36 tackles his rookie year while playing in all 16 games.
He had an even worse season last year playing in only 12 games, amassing 32 tackles. His outlook for this year? Let's just say that at least he wasn’t arrested earlier this year for drunken and disorderly conduct outside an Indianapolis bar, oh wait…
The other big disappointment was not because of his ability or off the field issues but an unfortunate, career ending injury. David Pollack, LB/DE from Georgia, could not have come out of college with a better résumé.
A three time All-American, Pollack received the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Ted Hendricks award(top collegiate DE) the Lombardi Award (top collegiate lineman), the Lott Trophy(given annually to a college defensive player exemplifying integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player in college football, Curry won this also).
He was drafted with the 17th overall pick in 2005 by the Cincinatti Bengals. After a lackluster rookie season, he broke his sixth cervical vertebrae in a game again the Browns, effectively ending his career.
Many have compared Curry’s game to long time Buccaneer Derrick Brooks, Perennial all star and AP First teamer. Brooks was drafted out of Florida State late in the first round. Most people would call this a steal except that Brooks only had 78 tackles his first season in the League.
After that season, it took him another 12 seasons before he would be under a hundred tackles again. Easy to say now that it was just a speed bump on the road to a hall of fame career, but what will Seahawk fans be saying about Curry if he “only” has 78 tackles his first season?
AC will be given every chance to succeed, but if there is anything that we have learned from the NFL draft it’s that there is not a sure thing, no matter what pick or how good a player they were in college.
Curry has done everything right so far, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t blow everyone’s doors off his first season.