Denver quickly selected cornerback Alphonso Smith, and the Seahawks gladly tucked the Broncos' first round choice in 2010 into their hip pocket.
This trade had two universal effects on the Seattle Seahawks fan base.
First, acquiring another first round pick in 2010 strengthened the Seahawks potential to bounce back from a dismal 2008 campaign. First-round picks in the NFL are expected to contribute immediately. Because of this, owning two first round picks opens endless possibilities of acquiring high-end talent, trading up for elite talent, and/or reinvigorating a team that seems to be collectively aging.
Second, acquiring Denver's first-round pick in 2010 immediately morphed the Seattle Seahawks fan base into a 2009 Anti-Broncos organization. The logic is simple; the worse Denver does, the better Seattle's acquired pick will be. Therefore, every Seahawks fan finds themselves reminiscing of the AFC West as they maliciously scour Denver Broncos box scores.
You may be thinking, Thanks for the history lesson, but how does Brandon Stokley tie into this?
With 0:38 left, Cedric Benson swerved into the end zone (pun intended) to give Cincinnati a 7-6 lead. Denver had a half a minute on the clock, but everyone in the stadium believed that Cincinnati had clinched it.
On second and ten, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton threw an ill-advised pass in the general zip code of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Bengals cornerback Leon Hall broke up the pass, but in doing so he lofted the ball downfield. Brandon Stokley eagerly plucked the ball out of the air and jetted towards pay dirt for a game-clinching 87-yard touchdown.
With one tipped pass the Denver Broncos earned a tick in the win column, and the Seattle Seahawks dropped a spot in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Every year, a proverbial race-for-last breaks out in the final weeks of the NFL Season. Aptly named the "[Insert College Star Here] Sweepstakes" this dash for mediocrity toys with the fate of the NFL's worst franchises (e.g. 2006 NFL Draft).
Some experts have pegged the Denver Broncos as a top five pick in 2010, but if week one is any indicator, the Broncos could stick it to the Seahawks in 2009.
Consider the following and decide if Seahawks fans have reason to worry...
The 2009 Denver Broncos are supposed to be BAD...
How bad? Well that depends on who you ask. An array of AFC West previews project the Broncos to finish as high as 7-9 and as low as 1-15, but this much is unanimous: the Denver Broncos will be a lower-tier team in 2010.
What does this give Seahawks fans? Hope! Acquiring a first round draft pick is one thing, but when you can acquire a first round draft pick from a team that is universally projected to fail, the world seems a little brighter.
... But the 2009 AFC West is supposed to be worse
Sure, the 2009 Denver Broncos are supposed to be atrocious. What many experts fail to acknowledge, however, is that the 2009 AFC West is supposed to be worse.
Division previews are split on who will finish second, third, and fourth, but regardless of the order, it is generally accepted that the bottom three teams in the AFC West will all finish with terrible records. Consider this preview, which has the second place Kansas City Chiefs at 4-12!
Yes, the bottom three teams in the AFC West will likely finish with negative records, but when these teams play each other someone has to win (unless Donovan McNabb is around). This someone-has-to-win-even-if-both-teams-are-bad dilemma could benefit Denver.
Even if the Broncos lose every other game on the schedule, they could go 6-10 by simply beating up the Browns, Chiefs, and Raiders.
One win can change everything in the NFL Draft
Let's say that Seahawks fans get their wish, and the Denver Broncos play miserably for the rest of the 2009 campaign. Even if the Broncos finished 3-12, Brandon Stokley's catch will still leave fans wondering what might have been?
In 2009, the Jacksonville Jaguars finished 5-11. Not to be bested, the Seattle Seahawks finished 4-12. No big deal, right? Wrong! Through a series of tiebreaks, the Seattle Seahawks received the fourth pick in the draft, while Jacksonville received the eighth.
That's four spots difference for a one win differential.
Now consider the 2009 Denver Broncos. Regardless of the rest of the season, Brandon Stokley's miracle touchdown, and the Denver Broncos' undeserved win over Cincinnati, could cost the Seahawks dearly in the 2010 NFL Draft.
There are no life-changing lessons to be learned here, but remember the following:
- Brandon Stokley's miracle touchdown earned an undeserved victory for the Denver Broncos in week one
- While the world expects Denver to fail in 2009, five or six easy matchups could lead the Broncos to an over-achieving record
- Regardless of the Broncos' final record, Brandon Stokley's game-winning touchdown in week one undoubtedly cost the Seattle Seahawks at least one spot in the 2010 NFL Draft
If the Broncos' draft pick seems too low in 2010, Seahawks fans will know who to blame...