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  1. #1
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    Road to draft: Safest prospect Curry could fall on Draft Day

    Road to draft: Safest prospect Curry could fall on Draft Day
    April 14, 2009
    By Rob Rang Senior Analyst

    Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry has already held private workouts on campus for the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns, owners of the third, fourth and fifth overall picks, respectively. He has also traveled to Detroit and Cincinnati for visits and is flying from Cleveland to St. Louis to Kansas City this week.

    Private workouts, Curry explained, are similar to the workouts he has done at the combine or at his pro day.

    "Except teams will ask you to do things in different order or change the focus. Some teams want to see you drop back more often. Others more with the bags."

    Similarly, the private visits have a tendency to run together.

    "What has happened so far [on trips to Detroit and Cincinnati] is that you fly in to the city one evening and are picked up by the team at the airport and go to dinner with some of the front office people and coaches, including the position coach," Curry said.

    "The next morning they take you to the team facility, where they give you a tour and introduce you to all of the coaches, the GM, the team owner, the public relations people. Then it is mainly spending time in the film room where the coaches watch film of your play throughout your career. The coaches give comments on your play -- both positive and negative. Next, they put on the film from their own season and after watching it for awhile together, they'll ask you questions about their defense. They expect that you'll be able to pick up on the system pretty quickly."

    Considering that Curry prides himself on his versatility and wants to know every linebacker position's responsibilities on each play, the process can be difficult.

    "But one that I look forward to," he said.

    With every team in the top six having either privately worked him out or invited him to tour their facility (or both), Curry's popularity with teams is nearly as impressive as his game film or the athleticism he has shown in drills. However, there is still some talk among league insiders that Curry could take a surprising tumble on draft day.

    One general manager, who asked not to be identified, characterized Curry as "probably the safest guy this year," but still thinks he's "fighting history to be taken as high as you all [the media] think."

    The point is a valid one.

    Only one linebacker has been selected earlier than the ninth overall pick since 2001, and the exception -- Green Bay's A.J. Hawk -- is a solid starter but has yet to show the playmaking ability expected from a player taken with the fifth overall pick in 2006.

    The meteoric rise in quarterback Mark Sanchez's stock since the Southern Cal pro day and the belief that Curry fits best outside in the 4-3 alignment is prompting some within the scouting community to suggest that Curry could slip -- perhaps all the way down to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 8 overall.

    Prominent in the rationale for why Curry could slip is the belief that his size and skills don't translate particularly well to the 3-4 defense. The inside linebacker position in the 3-4 defense -- the position many feel Curry, at 6-feet-2 and 254 pounds, fits best -- is generally considered the least valuable of the linebacker positions in either the 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

    Therefore, while it appears easy to project Curry to the Chiefs or Browns due to their obvious needs for a pass rusher, many believe GMs Scott Pioli and George Kokinis will ultimately look elsewhere.

    The Bengals, owners of the sixth pick, recently brought Curry in for a visit in anticipation that the Butkus winner could slip to them. Considering Cincinnati made Keith Rivers the ninth overall pick last year, it would seem unlikely the Bengals would spend another top 10 pick on the position.

    The Raiders, who finished behind only the Detroit Lions last season in run defense, would seem like an obvious stopping point for Curry. But owner Al Davis has historically ignored the linebacker position in the first round -- he has selected two in the first round in the past 45 years -- so Curry's slide could continue.

    Insiders believe the Jaguars are focusing on the quarterback and receiver positions, but if a talent like Curry fell into their lap, coach Jack Del Rio, a former standout linebacker himself, likely wouldn't hesitate.

    Curry's road to the draft has been a long one. He has gone from an afterthought recruit to Butkus Award winner to tours of nearly every team facility picking within the top six of this year's draft.

    Curry is also excited to be one of only nine players to accept an invitation by the NFL to attend the draft at Radio City Music Hall.

    "It's amazing to be in the place [Radio City] that I've always dreamed to be," he said. "Every year I watch the draft and I was so happy and excited for the guys that were in New York. And now, I'll be there, too."

    After finishing first among all linebackers tested in four of the first six drills at the scouting combine in February, Curry knew he wouldn't have to do the timed drills for scouts at Wake Forest's March 23 pro day.

    With representatives from all 32 teams on site, however, he did show off his athleticism in positional drills and re-affirmed his status as the safest prospect in this year's draft class.

    "Pro day was quite an experience," Curry said. "To hang out and work out with my teammates made it more special in some ways than even the combine. To work out in front of 41 scouts -- and there are only 32 teams, of course -- it just showed how much talent our class has helped the program. It was fun to see all of my teammates take advantage of the opportunity and just get a shot at the league just by working out in front of all those scouts."

    Fans outside of ACC country might not realize just how much talent Wake Forest had in 2008. projects five Demon Deacons as draftable prospects this year. All five (cornerback Alphonso Smith, safety Chip Vaughn, inside linebacker Stanley Arnoux, kicker Sam Swank and Curry) were invited to the combine.

    Clemson, with six, is the only ACC team that sent more prospects to the combine than Wake Forest. Longtime conference powerhouses Florida State (two), Virginia Tech (two) and Miami (one) combined only matched Wake's contingent.

    While he was proud of all of his teammates, Curry pointed to several underrated players who he thought helped their chances with their pro day performance.

    "Other than the guys who worked out at the combine, I really feel like Kerry Major, who played defensive back for us, really did a terrific job of showing his athletic ability and his speed. Antonio Wilson, who is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end, showed his athletic ability and left the state of Florida with the high school sack record [25 sacks as a senior in 2003 for Pahokee High School]."

  2. #2
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    Re: Road to draft: Safest prospect Curry could fall on Draft Day

    I see it as a slim chance but still would like to see us take Curry. If we don't and go OT I hope he falls like a rock. If he does he should still be the first LB taken and that might push some of the other LB's like Laurinaitis into the second round.

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    Re: Road to draft: Safest prospect Curry could fall on Draft Day

    It's plausible, but I just don't buy it. All players have an inherent risk factor going into the draft. When you can select a player who purports to have the lowest risk factor of any defensive player to come along in the last five drafts, it's something that you have to think seriously about: especially if you're as deficient on Defense as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville and Oakland.

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