Why Aaron Curry Shouldn't Be A Top-Three Pick

Some of you got sick of me raving about Michael Crabtree earlier this offseason. Well, I’m twice as sick of hearing about this Aaron Curry kid. Why? Because picking a linebacker that isn’t a devastating pass rusher in the top three is idiotic. Stupid. Retarded. Moronic. Daniel Snyder sh**. Detroit Lionsesque. Yet he went No. 1 in Arrowhead Pride’s reader mock and No. 3 in ours.

I’ve tried to wrap my brain around it, but…I just can’t. I can’t. It. Doesn’t. Make. Any. Sense. None whatsoever.

Look, linebackers who primarily rack up tackles and drop back into coverage just aren’t worthy of a top-three pick. Don’t believe me? Well, NFL general managers side with me. They have decided that the position isn’t as crucial as say quarterback, offensive tackle and, yes, wide receiver. That’s why the only player of this description to be picked in the past decade is LaVar Arrington. More on that from Walter Football:

The only linebacker chosen in the top three since 1998 was LaVarr Arrington in 2000. And it has to be noted that the man who took Arrington was none other than Daniel Snyder — an owner with a horrendous track record when making NFL personnel decisions…

Now, is Curry a better prospect than DeMarcus Ware, LaVarr Arrington, A.J. Hawk and Brian Urlacher? According to the Detroit-Curry speculation, some think so. Curry’s weight-40 combo rank up there with that of Arrington, Urlacher, Hawk and Ware, yet only one of those guys cracked the top three…

I’m not saying Curry is going to be a bust. I’m just pointing out that NFL front offices have since realized that linebacker isn’t one of the most valuable positions.

The reason a linebacker hasn’t been chosen first overall since 1988 is because NFL general managers and scouts have become wiser as the draft process has evolved.

Now, if Curry were a glorified defensive end, standing up in a 3-4 instead of playing with a hand down in a 4-3, I could see that. We recorded an all-time NFL team low in sacks last year. A DeMarcus Ware or Shawne Merriman could change our pass-rushing futility overnight. It would be akin to selecting Mario Williams. The only player that really fits that mold, at least to me, is Brian Orakpo. Orakpo had 11 sacks just last year. Curry only had 9 in his four-year career at Wake Forest.

So, call Aaron Curry Derrick Brooks, but don’t call him Derrick Thomas. Sure, Derrick Brooks won a Super Bowl — in his eighth year in the NFL. Who knows if Aaron Curry will even last eight years? LaVar Arrington didn’t. Even if he does, will Tony Gonzalez last that long? Matt Cassel? Branden Albert? Plus, Brooks had the privilege of playing behind Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp. No offense to Glenn Dorsey and Tamba Hali, but Rice and Sapp they are not.

We need an instant game changer. As much as I’m warming to Orakpo, there’s only one of those on the board — Micheal Crabtree.

Time and time again, I have offered up reasons why picking an elite receiver like Crabtree in the top three is, contrary to popular belief, actually a great idea. I have made a number of compelling cases for the ex-Red Raider at No. 3. None of those cases, however, have been quite as compelling or exhaustive as the one Chiefs fan Shawn Siegele put together for the Kansas City Star’s Red Zone blog today. Here’s my favorite excerpt:

Teams with 2 elite WRs:

Number of times a team had a 10-6 record or better: 15 (55%)
Number of times team had a record of 7-9 to 9-7: 10 (37%)
Number of times a team had a record of 6-10 or worse: 2 (7%)

Teams with 1 elite WR:

10-6 or better: 18 (27%)
7-9 to 9-7: 28 (42%)
6-10 or worse: 21 (31%)

Teams with 0 elite WRs:

10-6 or better: 18 (27%)
7-9 to 9-7: 19 (29%)
6-10 or worse: 29 (44%)

Almost all pundits will suggest that having two elite WRs is unnecessary and keeps you from addressing other aspects of your team. This is exactly the argument so many people are currently advancing in regard to the Cardinals possible trade of Anquan Boldin. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. These stats would argue that the single most important thing you can do to create a perennial playoff team is to pair your elite WR with a second elite WR. An unbelievable 55% of teams with 2 elite WRs have been a playoff-caliber 10-6 or better during the last 5 years. Even more shockingly, only 7% of those teams have been a non-competitive 6-10 or worse. (One of those teams was an early version of the Fitzgerald/Boldin Cardinals, a team quarterbacked by the trio of Josh McCown, Shaun King, and John Navarre; if one credits being three minutes from a Super Bowl championship a fairly successful season, things have turned out pretty well for the Fitzgerald/Boldin combination.)

The numbers for the remaining profiles stand in stark contrast. Teams with 1 or 0 elite WRs put out playoff squads a paltry 27% of the time. For teams with 1 elite WR, the numbers suggest the likelihood for mediocrity. Teams with no elite WRs are simply bad a disturbingly high percentage of the time.

Most fans and pundits view an offense with multiple elite WRs as a luxury that is fun for the fans but counter to winning. I hope this proves otherwise. While teams with multiple elite WRs represent only 17% of the team seasons in the last five years, they represent 29% of the teams with records of 10-6 or better. They are also disproportionately represented on both the winning and losing sides of recent Super Bowls.

While the track record of top 5 WRs suggests that they are very likely to become elite contributors, WRs in the 7-15 range have had a very high bust rate over the past 5-10 years. At least recently, LBs drafted in that same range have been very big contributors. If the Chiefs had a pick in that range and the choice was Jeremy Maclin or Aaron Curry (or whomever the second best LB might happen to be), then I’d say history favors taking a LB. However, if the Chiefs have a chance at a guy like Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, or Torry Holt, I don’t think there’s a way Curry could possibly match that contribution even if he became – as many project – the best LB in the NFL.

Personally, I’m scared Curry will end up being Derrick Johnson on steroids — not Derrick Brooks. Meanwhile, I think at worst Crabtree would be Dwayne Bowe on steroids. Which player would you rather have? You know the answer to that question. I even think Mike Vrabel will have a better next two seasons than Curry. That’s my prediction.

Given the recent history of both the NFL and the NFL draft, it is just unreasonable to draft a linebacker that’s a non-pass rusher in the top three. That’s why I still believe that Scott Pioli won’t do it. I just can’t see that man reaching. Just because the Lions are pondering him as a top-three pick doesn’t mean we should.

Sure, Pioli picked Jerod Mayo 10th last year. But he also is the guy who picked Chad Jackson and Laurence Maroney early, not to mention the dude who traded for Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Pioli picking Crabtree isn’t a stretch. The only way Curry makes sense is financially, as he might take a smaller deal than Crabtree.

As for Bobby Engram’s signing pointing to us not drafting Crabtree, I would say just the opposite. Maybe Pioli and Todd Haley brought him in to mentor both Dwane Bowe and Crabtree. Plus, Engram plays in the slot. Who is going to line up opposite of Bowe? Could be Crabtree. Crabtree as Fitz, Bowe as Boldin and Engram as Breaston sounds pretty damn good to me. Especially if we add Mike Goff through free agency and bolster our offensive line.

I guess I’d just like to see someone make as strong of a case, and one backed by statistical evidence, for Curry as Siegele did for Crabtree. If anyone can do it, I will post it and become Curry’s biggest cheerleader. I just don’t think it can be done. I would even post anybody’s case for Curry over Orakpo, because I don’t even think that can logically be done statistically.

The gauntlet has been thrown down to those afflicted with Curry Fever. Defend your man Quentin Curryatt. I’m eagerly waiting…

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Tags: Aaron Curry Brian Orakpo Kansas City Chiefs Michael Crabtree Scott Pioli

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