Is that a banana in your pocket, Chiefs Nation, or are you just that freakin’ gaga over Aaron Curry? You know, Mr. 9.5 Sacks in Four Years. I say Crabtree, most of you say Curry. Personal preference? Maybe, but this isn’t about that. This is about playing the market correctly. This is about not reaching based on where the rest of the league sets a premium on talent.
Let’s start off by looking at the last 10 drafts and the linebackers and wide receivers who have gone in the top five. Players who made the Pro Bowl will have an asterisk by their name.
1999 NFL Draft:
2000 NFL Draft:
LBs LaVar Arrington* (2nd)
WRs: Peter Warrick (4th)
2001 NFL Draft:
2002 NFL Draft:
2003 NFL Draft:
WRs: Charles Rogers (2nd), Andre Johnson* (3rd)
2004 NFL Draft:
WRs: Larry Fitzgerald* (4th)
2005 NFL Draft:
WRs: Braylon Edwards* (3rd)
2006 NFL Draft:
LBs: A.J. Hawk (5th)
2007 NFL Draft:
WRs: Calvin Johnson (2nd)
2008 NFL Draft:
So, we have six wide receivers to two linebackers, and a whole lot to discuss…
Both linebackers turned out to be pretty good players, but not great players. Arrington had a ridiculously short career, albeit it a pretty good one. I just remember how unbelievable Arrington was in college. After you consider his collegiate dominance, it’s hard not to consider him a bust, at least on some level. Hawk is never going to be a dominant player, which is what you expect to receive when you pick a player inside the top five. It is also quite apparent that the NFL as a whole believes anywhere in the top five is generally too early to pick linebacker. Typically, the best linebacker in each class is picked just inside or outside of the top 10 — somewhere in that range.
Four out of six of the receivers have turned out to be very good receivers. In fact, if you throw out the Peter Warrick pick that happened 10 years ago, four of the past five, not to mention the last three, receivers picked in the top five have gone on to become superstars. Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are probably the best two receivers in the game. I will take them over Randy Moss and Terrell Owens any day of the week. That assessment is based on based on age, attitude and game. Calvin Johnson looks destined to join A.J. and Fitz in their elite club sooner than later. Hell, even Braylon Edwards is a very good player, drops and all. At times he has been unstoppable. Let’s not forget that Fitz just carried his team to the Super Bowl. Arrington never did that and Hawk doesn’t have that kind of potential.
Forget that there are a ton of linebackers just or almost as good as Curry available in both the draft and free agency. Well, don’t forget that permanently, just temporarily for the sake of this exercise.
Forget that there is nobody in the draft or free agency at the receiver position even comparable to Crabtree. That is unless you want to mortgage the farm in an Anquan Boldin trade.
This is about getting top-five value. My research shows that you can do it by picking a receiver. That trend is even more evident in recent years. You want your top-five pick to become a superstar, and I’ve provided proof that receivers picked in that range often become just that.
Meanwhile, linebackers are seldom even picked anywhere near the top five, and there hasn’t been one in at least a decade who has gone on to become a dominant NFL player over an extended period of time. In fact, a linebacker hasn’t even been picked in the top four since the dawn of the new Millennium. Doesn’t that tell you what NFL personnel departments think of the linebacker position compared to positions like defensive end, quarterback, offensive tackle, running back (at least in the past) and receiver? Hell, compared to even cornerbacks and defensive tackles?
Why are we even still talking about this kid as a possibility at No. 3? Let’s get serious and close the book on Curry. Outside 4-3 linebacker isn’t a position that has tremendous impact in today’s NFL. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that’s going to change because of Curry. This is one Curry dish I will reject time and time again. I hope Scott Pioli and the Chiefs feel the same way.