I heard a story in Indianapolis that I’ve hesitated to run, not because it’s controversial, but because I can’t figure out what to make of it. It was told to me by Andy Ross, a top agent with a top firm, Houston-based Select Sports Group (though Andy is based in Virginia).
Andy recruited Wake Forest OB Aaron Curry in late ’07 and January of ’08 when he was considering entering the draft as a junior. As most top prospects do, Curry put in for his draft projection with the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, and he received a third-round grade. Maybe that would have proven to be true; maybe it wouldn’t have.
For perspective, the top five picks in the draft were Michigan OT Jake Long (Dolphins), Virginia DE Chris Long (Rams), Boston College QB Matt Ryan (Falcons), Arkansas OH Darren McFadden (Raiders) and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey (Chiefs). Two linebackers went in the first round that year, Southern Cal’s Keith Rivers (No. 9 to Cincinnati) and Tennessee’s Jerod Mayo (No. 10 to New England), while Oklahoma’s Curtis Lofton (more of a pure inside linebacker) went No. 37 overall to the Falcons. Maybe he would have proven to be a third-rounder; maybe he wouldn’t have.
Anyway, Curry chose to stay in school. The draft came and went, and then a couple weeks later, National Football Scouting, one of the two services that grades players for subscribing NFL teams, had him as the No. 1-rated player for the ’09 draft. National usually meets with teams around the Memorial Day weekend, so this was literally weeks after the ’08 draft. It’s possible he was rated No. 1 overall by BLESTO, the other scouting service used by NFL teams, as well. Either way, at the end of the day, he was seen as a truly elite player by two highly respected scouting services just a few months after he’d been rated as a third-rounder by NFL teams’ scouts.
Now, if you believe Cara Luterek (and we do — read our interview with her here), all 32 NFL teams are represented on the CAC, as well as National and BLESTO. Luterek used to work on the College Advisory Committee (CAC) for the NFL. Though only a handful of teams contributed to the report on Curry, clearly, several NFL evaluators must have graded Curry down quite a bit to counter BLESTO and National, which clearly liked him.
As a postscript, National and BLESTO both were right. Curry went No. 4 in ’09 to the Seahawks (and Andy signed him, doing quite well on his contract, by the way, getting him $34 million guaranteed, a tremendous sum). I guess that says a lot about the effectiveness of the two scouting services that year vs. the quality of evaluation for the handful of teams that graded Curry before the ’08 draft.