Curry's play never matched the pre-draft hype
Curry was polarizing almost from the start, and he was maddening near the end, but in his final three weeks, he was just lost.
Seattle Times staff columnist
In reality, Aaron Curry truly did possess unbelievable talent.
He was too good to be true. He was hailed before the 2009 NFL draft as the ultimate sure thing, a menacing, tough and athletic linebacker with a clergyman's character. He wasn't just going to be a star; he was going to be a community asset. Curry invited a 12-year-old leukemia survivor, Bryson Merriweather, to New York for draft day. And when the Seahawks took him with the fourth overall pick, Curry wept because he had secured a better life for his mother, Chris, who was once evicted from her home.
The Seahawks hadn't selected a linebacker. They had selected an incredible feel-good movie, and the expectation was that Curry's sequel would be even better. The franchise handed him a contract worth $34 million guaranteed before he played a down. No one blinked. It was a safe investment in a future Pro Bowler.
Now, two seasons and five games into a baffling career, Curry is an ex-Seahawk. For many, he will go down as one of the greatest busts in Seattle sports history. For everyone, Curry included, it was clear that his stay in town had lasted long enough, and his trade to Oakland elicits relief more than sadness or even anger.
He needed to go and start over with a new team. Curry was polarizing almost from the start, and he was maddening near the end, but in his final three weeks, he was just lost. He couldn't do anything right. He couldn't satisfy anyone, not even himself. He couldn't even tweet without incident.
His legacy is as unbelievable as his pre-draft hype now. On his Seahawks headstone, five words must be inscribed.
A most hazardous safe pick.
Safe pick? It might've been safer to abstain from picking. It's hard to believe that a prospect so good, so well-regarded and well-intentioned — so right — could turn out so wrong.
Hindsight tells you that Curry's value may have been inflated because his draft class was lackluster at the top. None of the top 12 picks in the 2009 draft has made a Pro Bowl. Only quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick that year, has flashed franchise-player potential. Perhaps, when draft analysts considered Curry the safest pick, they actually meant, "He'll only be a moderate disaster."
Curry had moments of brilliance in Seattle, especially at the beginning of his rookie season. But the more he played, the more his lack of football instincts and savvy became detectable.
The Seahawks tried everything to inspire better play from Curry. He played under two defensive-minded head coaches, Jim Mora and Pete Carroll, and neither could solve him. Remember how Carroll studied film of the linebacker before his introductory news conference in 2010? Curry struggled in almost every aspect of the job, and three weeks ago, he lost his starting spot to rookie K.J. Wright.
He's not a pass rusher. He overruns plays. He isn't good in coverage, doesn't seem to grasp the defensive scheme and can't utilize all of his speed because he's unsure if he's doing the right thing. He does, however, play the run well, especially when he's asked to overpower tight ends.
Overall, Curry has too many deficiencies for a high-profile player. So, the Seahawks have cut ties. General manager John Schneider didn't draft him; Tim Ruskell did. This front office isn't emotionally tied to Curry's success, in that sense. Even though Carroll and Schneider love his physical gifts and work ethic, they couldn't spend any more time trying to develop Curry.
The Raiders will try now. If Curry ever figures it out, he will be one of the most imposing linebackers in the NFL. He's a physical specimen, a quality person and a team-oriented guy, so it's too soon to consider him a lost cause. Maybe a fresh coach can get the best out of Curry. Maybe this humbling experience will motivate Curry. There's no greater wake-up call than having the team that drafted you end the relationship so soon.
But Curry is a 25-year-old linebacker at an easy-to-learn position. If he hasn't become an impactful player by now, he probably won't. Like Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson, a rare linebacker who went from bust to beloved, Curry would be better as a freewheeling linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Unfortunately, the Raiders, like the Seahawks, run a 4-3.
It's just another risky assignment for a most hazardous safe pick.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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