The key word Pete Carroll used when describing Aaron Curry when asked by the media. Expectations. Pete was a sports and human psychology major in grad school at the University of Pacific over 30 years ago. He knew then and knows now that so much of sports success resides outside of the talents of the body or the talent of the team.
Sure, he wants bigger, stronger, taller, faster players. He wants talent. He knows talent. He wants all the measurables. His 2004 USC team placed over 50 players in the NFL. That's talent. But as we saw in 2010, he knows when to raise and lower expectations. He also knew when the expectations on New Orleans could be played AGAINST them and he seized the moment. It was a trap game for New Orleans. A trap game he lost a few times at USC as the Pac-10 favorite. Expectations.
Expectations. Peyton Manning lived up to them. Hard to do that. Peyton and Tim Duncan were considered the top draft pick two years running (a la Andrew Luck) and they both went on to Hall of Fame careers, changed their franchises and won rings. They lived up to the hype. Tiger did too...for a while. Lebron kinda sorta did too...til the Decision. In Miami Lebron raised his expectations not 1, not 2, not 3...times.
See, Aaron Curry should start in the NFL in my opinion. He should play for $2-3M per year and be a solid player in the NFL. I have no idea if he should play outside in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4, but I think he can play in this league and he is still young.
He has already banked $20M from the Seahawks in two years. That's a lot of money. He will bank $5-15M more from Seattle when all is said and done. And he is human. Any human would feel really good and to a certain degree, really bad about that.
Half the players on an NFL team make about $500,000 per year. Pro Bowl players like Sidney Rice and Zach Miller have yet to bank that $20M kind of cash, yet. Bottom line: if you get paid a lot of money, players and fans and owners and coaches and GMs expect you to produce. In a hard salary cap league, it doesn't matter if your owner is Paul Allen - the money you receive eats up a limited pie for you to sign another impact player. Everyone has to produce value.
The new CBA toned down the exponential money slope of the first fifteen picks in the draft. We will look back at those top fifteen contracts in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 - from the veterans perspective and the owners perspective, it's a good thing those were toned down. Sam Bradford could be another Peyton Manning (2 year running favorite to be pick #1) so I think his deal is probably worth it. But those days are over. Jake Locker's contract as the 8th pick in 2011 was super modest for a QB. Same with Cam Newton.
Let's move on from the money.
2009 DRAFT POSITION
Expectations. Everyone comes into the NFL ranked. It's called the Draft, and every player remembers what round they were picked in. I am sure many players know the exact pick number as well as the round. Players that were not drafted remember draft day and many non-drafted players carry that rejection with them and lead long NFL careers. Everyone knows what round you were drafted in, especially if you were a first round pick, or better yet, a HIGH first round pick.
It's not Aaron's fault Seattle was not able to trade down. Why? The huge money you had to tie up at the 4th pick at the time and the fact that other teams didn't value that pick in 2009. Jim L Mora said they tried to trade down but no partner was there.
Fans demand a lot from high 1st rd picks. I mean, in 2008 Seahawk fans had to suffer through a 4-12 season. Highlighted by Josh Wilson snow angels and a Brett Favre torn triceps. Koren Robinson came BACK to play WR for the Seahawks- and we were HAPPY about that. We suffered through a lot in 2008, so when that 4th pick in the 2009 draft comes along, we wanted BIG THINGS.
2009 wasn't a good year in my opinion as far as First Rounds go. At least in the first half of Round One. Nothing compared to 2010 I think. Bottom of the round was pretty decent.
I will bucket players in groups - gut instinct - no arguments allowed, especially if you are a fan of another team and know these players better than me.
1. Matt Stafford
9. BJ Raji
13. Brian Orakpo
14. Malcolm Jenkins
15. Brian Cushing
17. Josh Freeman
19. Jeremy Maclin
21. Alex Mack
22. Percy Harvin
26. Clay Matthews
29. Hakeem Nicks
30. Kenny Britt
2. Jason Smith
3. Tyson Jackson
4. Aaron Curry
5. Mark Sanchez
7. Darrius Heyward-Bey
8. Eugene Monroe
10. Michael Crabtree
12. Knowshon Moreno
18. Robert Ayers
23. Michael Oher
31. Beanie Wells
6. Andre Smith
11. Aaron Maybin
I HAVE NO IDEA IF THEY ARE GOOD OR NOT
16. Larry English
20. Brandon Pettigrew
24. Peria Jerry
25. Vontae Davis
28. Eric Wood
32. Ziggy Hood
Look at that- most of the value was at the mid-bottom of the round. Is that because of expectations? I don't necessarily think so, but it may say that it was a "Flat" draft in terms of 1st round talent. Meaning there wasn't much difference in grades between pick 2 and pick 31. Seahawks were in a tough position.
We couldn't get Stafford. I know we considered Moreno. My good friend wanted Beanie Wells. Thank God we didn't get Andre Smith. Jason Smith, who went ahead of us anyway, doesn't even play Left Tackle. Wasn't a good year for Left Tackles and Ruskell-Mora still thought Walter Jones had gas in the tank. Josh Freeman was the right pick but in all fairness he was considered to be a 2nd round project. Good for Tampa.
My other friend wanted chain-wearing Orakpo, but Ruskell had Patrick Kerney and newly acquired Corey Redding, so he thought we were covered. Plus we had Daryll Tapp and Lawrence Jackson, both his picks.
I think what hurts is that at the linebacker position there are two players that jump out: Clay Matthews III and Brian Cushing. Pro Bowlers already and both were Pete Carroll's linebackers. Interesting.
Part II coming up tomorrow, stay tuned...