Aaron Curry has become somewhat of an enigma during his first two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
The team values Curry as an important part of its defense, particularly against the run. But if it appears as though the Seahawks have forgotten Curry was the fourth overall choice in the 2009 draft, it's probably because Curry's draft status doesn't mean much to the team's new leadership.
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider did not draft Curry. They're not invested in Curry the way the Seahawks' previous leadership was invested in him. That's why the team's current leadership doesn't blink when 32-year-old defensive end Raheem Brock gets some of the opportunities Curry otherwise would have gotten within the defense. It's not Curry's fault someone else drafted him fourth overall.
For Carroll and staff, it's all about plugging players in the right places to benefit the defense overall. It's less about making sure Curry proves he was worth the fourth overall pick.
"You can see him fading away and that would be unfortunate," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said.
These situations arise throughout the league when teams change coaching staffs. In St. Louis, Rams coach Steve Spanguolo and general manager Billy Devaney inherited quite a few relatively recent high draft choices. Clifton Ryan, the last remaining member of the Rams' 2007 draft class, landed on injured reserve this week.
The Seahawks are more fortunate in this instance because Curry has performed well enough to start in the base defense. Curry could conceivably develop into Chris Clemons' successor in the "Leo" role as a stand-up defensive end. He appears stronger moving forward than when dropping into zone coverage.
Curry expressed excitement over the offseason about having a chance to rush the passer from a three-point stance. Late in training camp, Carroll said he wanted Curry to become a force rushing the passer. The Seahawks signed Brock two weeks later. Brock has three sacks in six games. Curry has one.
"In the end, the role he fits best is probably as a 3-4 SAM, a strong-side linebacker to play the run, do some blitzing and cover the tight end," Williamson said. "But of all the positions, that is the one that has the least value. He's a jack of all trades, master of none. It would do him some good to be put in a featured role and left there."