Rennie Curran might not be my favorite Georgia Bulldog ever, but he would, as they say in the Tour de France, make the podium. (Meaning: Top three.) Really good player, really nice fellow, really fun to watch play and really fun to interview. (David Pollack, by way of comparison, was a great player who was fun to watch play but no fun to interview.)
But now Rennie C. has me worried. He’s leaving for the NFL a year early, and I’m afraid he’ll get lost in this draft. He’s not rated among the top 100 prospects by ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc., and if you go 101st in a draft you’re a fourth-rounder. And that means you’re fighting the current — Curran, current? Get it? — from Day 1 of minicamp.
I’m aware of Curran’s presumed limitations. He’s short. (Not small, just short.) And no, he’s not apt to grow much and thereby improve his draft status over the next year of his young life. And yes, there’s a chance the NFL will have imposed a rookie salary cap by 2011. (Though I doubt it will happen that quickly, if it all.) I know there are reasons for him to leave now. I just think he’d have been better served by staying.
I haven’t broken down every snap played by Georgia’s defense these past two seasons — hey, I’m not a masochist — but my layman’s view was that Curran was better as a sophomore than as a junior. And I think, given the presumed upgrade at defensive coordinator, he’d have had a chance at a big senior season. And I think those scouts who value productivity over measurements — there aren’t many, but there are some — might have been able to lobby him into, say, Round 3 or even Round 2 in 2011.
I’m no scout, but I think Curran can play in the NFL. His instincts are off the charts, or they would be if you could chart instincts, which you can’t. Which brings me to this: Some Round 4 guys work their way upward by tripping the light fantastic in workouts. Curran would seem the opposite of a Workout Warrior; he’s not going to look as good just running and jumping as he does slicing between blockers to snare a running back.
Curran needs to land in the right place because he’s so unusual. The Bulldogs themselves didn’t know what to make of him as a freshman, but finally the coaches decided to put him on the field and let him wing it. Last year Mark Richt admitted the Bulldogs ordinarily teach pursuing linebackers to lead with a certain shoulder, but with Curran the coaches threw up their hands and said, “Just tackle somebody.”
I’m worried the pro team that winds up with Rennie C. won’t be so willing to waive standard procedure. I’m worried it will try to fit him into a slot unsuited for his particular gifts and will end up losing patience. I’m worried that, because he isn’t apt to be even a second-rounder, Curran’s team won’t feel any great pressure to justify the pick and will just stick him on the practice squad. Or worse.
And I’d hate that. I like watching Curran play, and I’d like to keep watching him another five or 10 years. I hope this move works out for him. Having been wrong about everything lately, I’d really hate to be right about this one.