It may take me a month to write this series! Or longer .... but let's start with the Letter A!
A - AUCTION - the Draft is an Auction.
What are you talking about Davis? The draft is not an auction. The worst teams have large forms of currency, more valuable than money, called "Draft Position." The Super Bowl Champion is dealt the least amount of this currency. And sure, Indianapolis would not trade the #1 pick for any amount of currency. But, look at how many trades there were in Round 1. If you wanted to "outspend" a rival team using "draft currency" - there were many willing partners willing to slide down. If you wanted to "outbid" another team - you could spend your currency and the player was there to be had.
I stand at auctions every week. Most times, the winning bidder is told "you paid too much" in either a passive aggressive manner or in a direct manner. Very few times does a rival bidder say, when the auction is done, "you got a great deal." The national media said "Seattle Seahawks, you paid too much!"
How can you get a good deal at an auction, with 31 other rival bidders with the exact same information? The answer is, you usually can't. There are two, and this is not an exhaustive list, exceptions to this "good deal" rule, and let's use a house as an example in this analogy.
Exception #1- You have a special utility for this house that others do not.
Exception #2- You have inside information on this house that others do not.
The special utility for Bruce Irvin is that the Seahawks just paid Red Bryant, in an auction versus New England, big money to play 30 to 40 snaps per game. The Seahawks have another player, Chris Clemons, who is an older (in Seahawk terms) player who currently plays 60 snaps a game. I imagine Pete Carroll would like Clemons to play 40 snaps a game and extend his career. Perhaps like a pitch count. I do think Clemons gets re-signed in 2013 no matter how successful Irvin is in 2012. I could be wrong.
The Seahawks have a special utility, a special role, that most other teams in the NFL do not have for Bruce Irvin. Perhaps, in the mentioned home analogy, I want a specific house for use as my primary residence. In this case I am possibly willing to pay more for this house than my rival bidders, who are strictly investors. The Seahawks have a special utility for Bruce Irvin that other defenses do not have.
Exception 2 - the presence of inside information. Pete Carroll said, he had "special information" about Irvin that other teams did not have. Some may scoff at this, but I believe it to be true. Pete chased this guy to be his "USC Elephant" even though he was a Junior College transfer. Pete didn't take a lot of JC transfers at USC. Irvin had to be special for Pete to use a scholarship on a JC Transfer.
In the house analogy, perhaps I know the old owner of a property - this owner told me specific information about the property that the general market of realtors and buyers did not know. Perhaps there is extra finished square footage in the basement, or perhaps the city is about to rezone the property into a denser zoning - increasing the property value in the future. Perhaps there is an oil field under the ground. I kid.
Pete had information that he felt others did not have. This type of information is usually found via relationships, not based on game tape or combine workouts. Every team does interviews. Every team watches film. Every team has scouts. But through the strength of relationships, I do believe inside information can be found - and I do believe Pete achieved a comfort level with Irvin that other teams and media people did not because of this information. We will see how it plays out. Again, if you have special utility or special information - you can be the successful bidder at a competitive auction and still walk away with a great bargain.