This article also talks about the pros, cons, and economics of the first pick overall and is a good read.
NetRat and I (among others) have been having an interesting dialogue on this subject -- in particular the salary ramifications of the first pick. While I already summarized this in brief before FA started, I feel it is good to look at again:
As Per NetRat:
Any non-QB a 5 year, $60+ million contract with $30 to $32 million guaranteed.
It will start off in the $4 to $5 mill cap hit range year one and escalate upwards of $16 to $17 mill in year 5.
Just take the average though, $12 mill a year for 5 years (that is NOT what he will actually get paid, that is his average)
ALL linebackers in the NFL get an average of $9 mill or less per year.
Now, forget the Lions' needs and forget who your fav draftee is... just look at the contracts in the draft from last year and then look at ALL the linebackers in the NFL... now be honest, where does Curry get drafted at, based on salary?
lets take another different view. Narrowing down to Stafford and Curry -- both are gambles in different ways.
Stafford is a gamble because he is not the best player in the draft, he is an underclassmen QB which adds a statistically significant increase to the already high bust potential for 1st round QB's. But, the salary is more in line with QB money -- albeit Peyton Manning range.
Curry is a gamble because he is above the Ray Lewis range by a couple mil a year. But by the end of his contract, where will that number be? If he works out, that number could end up right or even below average for a top LB. But he would have to be a top LB in the league almost right out the gate. As with all draft picks, the bust factor is there, but isn't as highly probable in first round LB.
So which gamble do you take? The higher-stakes, but more in-line with tradition QB pick and hope he is the next Matt Ryan and not the next Joey Harrington? Or do you gamble on the unorthodox and say defense is just as important as offense, and it's about stopping people not just sacks?
I looked at the At numbers for salaries, and while the #1 money doesn't put him above the top QB's by a couple million, it would put Stafford in the Brady/Manning/Rothlisburger range.
So do you overpay a LB by a couple mil a year and hope he's a HOF caliber, or do you pay Stafford like a future Pro-Bowl QB and hope he lives up to that? And if both come in a notch lower, or even in the good but not great department, which puts you further behind?
You can't ignore the cap -- but I think that is the real gamble with Curry --- are you comfortable with the salary. If the answer is yes, then you should have no problem taking him. Stafford or one of the LT's have a similar salary conundrum as either would become the highest paid LT in the league.
Just getting to a point that if you are OK with the salary, you will be fine with Curry at 1. If you are not okay with a rookie LB making 2 mil a year more than the Ray Lewis' of the NFL, then you will not be considering Curry at 1.
So really, it DOES all come down to salary because you have to be okay paying the right LB that kind of money before you can even look at if Curry is the right LB. If you aren't ok with the salary, you won't waste time looking at does he fit.
Kinda like having 100k to spend in one spot. If I'm not okay with a 100k price tag on a car, I'm not going to bother wasting time comparing cars to other purchases I can make because I have already eliminated "car" from the list. So the salary argument has merit. However, it is not the be-all-end-all. It is merely one more thing to take into consideration when you are weighing who to pick at #1 overall in 2009...