The Seahawks’ first-round pick in Saturday’s NFL Draft came down to grade matching need.
And some luck.
When it was time to make the fourth pick overall, taking Wake Forest outside linebacker
But only because the Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in college football last season was still available.
When the Kansas City Chiefs opted for LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson at No. 3, the player considered the safest pick in this year’s draft class – and one who fills the team’s most obvious need – fell in the Seahawks’ lap.
The Seahawks’ draft room exploded in cheers. Team owner Paul Allen was beaming.
“We were very pleased,” coach Jim Mora said, also admitting the team would have faced a quandary if Curry had not been available. “It was a consensus in our room that we were all excited. We were very excited. The guy is a heck of a player.”
The excitement stretched all the way to New York City, where Curry was among the players invited to Gotham for the day’s festivities.
“I was excited just for the phone to ring, to be on the phone with coach Mora,” said Curry, who couldn’t hold back tears as he made his way to the stage after his selection was announced.
“To find out I was going to be a Seattle Seahawk was one of the best things that I have ever heard.”
With Curry wrapped up, the Seahawks then played a game of now we don’t have a pick/now we do in the second round.
First, they traded their own pick (No. 37) to Denver for the Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2010. No sooner had Ruskell conceded that he was calling it a day, and then the Seahawks traded back into the round – this time with Chicago – for the 49th pick.
The sudden shift occurred because Oregon center
Photo courtesy of GoDucks.com, Eric Evans
There was no need for such tactics in the first round, even though the Seahawks had other options.
They could have traded down. Ruskell said he talked to three or four teams about a possible deal, but the discussions “never got solid.”
They could have selected Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Or Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe. Or even USC quarterback Mark Sanchez – who had become the trendy selection for the Seahawks in the mock drafts that were threatening to choke cyberspace.
There was no need to consider any other possibility, because Curry was there.
Curry can step right in at the strong-side spot that opened when Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson was traded to the Detroit Lions last month.
“In our situation, we wanted a guy who was going to come in right away and be able to do something for us,” Ruskell said. “Here is a guy that is going to come to our team and have a starting job and play for us right away.”
Not to mention a guy who was the highest-rated player on the Seahawks’ board at the time, and a player considered the safest pick in the draft.
Even Ruskell had admitted there were no franchise-caliber players in this draft, but the 6-foot-2, 254-pound Curry was as close as it got.
Scouts Inc. not only rated Curry the top player in the class, he received a grade of 1 – the highest possible – in production, durability, character, instincts, pursuit and tackling. At the scouting combine in February, his efforts in the 40-yard dash (4.52 seconds), vertical leap (37 inches) and board jump (10-4) were tops among all linebackers.
Connect the dots between those numbers and it creates a picture of a player the Seahawks needed, and couldn’t resist.
“Curry was the first guy we put (tape) on and we were like, ‘Wow! This guy is special,” St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney said after the combine.
“He is really good on tape. And then we started talking about the intangibles and, to a man, everybody said he’s top of the line.”
Like the Chiefs at No. 3, the Rams also passed on Curry at No. 2. That played right into the scenario preferred by the Seahawks.
“We stayed true to our board, and we always like to do that,” Ruskell said. “Aaron was the next guy, and he was the highest-rated guy on our board at the time.”
Despite everything he accomplished and displayed in college, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe offered, “The most important ability is dependability.”
And durability. Curry started 49 of 51 games for the Demon Deacons.
If there was a knock on Curry, it’s that he had not been much of a pass rusher, with 9½ sacks among his 332 career tackles. But Grobe begs to differ with that assessment.
“There’s no reason he can’t be a great pass-rusher,” he said. “We just didn’t use him that way. We asked him to do tougher stuff, which is dropping into (pass) coverage.”
Saturday, the Seahawks were just happy that Curry dropped to them.