On Saturday, he was a rookie with his last name stickered to the front of his helmet to make sure everyone knew who he was, trying to remember the playbook that at first glance seemed to be written in a foreign language.
“It was like reading Chinese,” Curry said.
Welcome to the NFL, rookie. Time to get to work.
The Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp concludes today, and it is the NFL’s version of the transition game as 19 NFL rookies take their first official steps for the Seahawks. On Friday, wide receiver Deon Butler, Seattle’s third-round draft pick this season, went out to the field before practice began at 1:15 and found he had plenty of company.
“All the rookies were the first people out there,” Butler said.
They’ve arrived in the NFL only to find out that they’re starting all over again, given a playbook thicker than any they’ve seen and expected to fit right in.
“Even though it’s rookie camp, they’re not moving at rookie speed,” Butler said.
Especially not for Curry, the strongside linebacker who is the only rookie currently practicing with Seattle’s starters. The No. 4 pick out of Wake Forest has no time to get his feet wet, instead he’s cannonballing into the deep end of the pool.
“I was doing everything on the go,” Curry said.
He is the highest Seahawks draft pick in 12 years, but now he’s starting from scratch.
The NFL draft is like a caste system, paychecks and status dependent upon where the player is picked. An NFL locker room is predicated around seniority.
Not only that, but the rookies have gone from being big men on college campus to having little idea of the day-to-day routine of an NFL player. It’s an adjustment every draft pick must make, especially the first-rounders.
“You’re just a fish out of water,” said defensive end Lawrence Jackson, Seattle’s 2008 first-round pick. “You’re still the same guy you were when you left college, but you’ve got to retrain everything.”
Is it like being a freshman in college again?
“Worse,” Jackson said.
At 255 pounds, Curry is the heaviest Seattle linebacker yet he’s got the top-end speed to run with anyone at the position, even Leroy Hill. The speed of the game and the depth of the playbook are something new.
“It’s like being a freshman in high school,” Curry said.
Curry even got a head start on his studies, receiving a Seahawks defensive playbook on Monday after he was drafted. He flew back to North Carolina, studying the playbook there and back and doing his best to make some sense of it.
“I’m catching on,” Curry said. “I really caught on once we turned on the film and they showed us what we were doing and what was going on.”
Players prepare for the draft almost like track athletes. They work on their sprinting form and prepare for the vertical leap and shuttle runs that will be tested at the scouting combine. Curry even participated in a media training program before the draft. For months, he has prepared to enter a professional football career by doing just about everything but actually playing football. That changed this weekend when Curry and the rest of Seattle’s rookies were handed helmets that had stickers with their last names on the front and took the field for the rookie minicamp.
Already, Seattle’s coaches like what they see in Curry.
“You don’t see him being shellshocked,” said Gus Bradley, defensive coordinator. “He knows he’s got a way to go, but you don’t see that in his eyes. You see more confidence.”