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 Handicapping the top of the draft 
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Post Handicapping the top of the draft
By ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

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1. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford
Why he's the guy: The Lions paid an awful lot of attention to him at the combine, more than any other individual prospect. Nothing happened to suggest he has fallen from the perch as the top quarterback available, which always makes a player a top candidate for the No. 1 overall pick. And you can't deny the karma: Stafford attended the same high school (Highland Park in Dallas) as former Lions quarterback Bobby Layne.

Why he isn't: Stafford's decision not to throw at the combine means the Lions' evaluation of him can't be complete. It also means NFL teams haven't had a chance to evaluate his accuracy after a college career in which he completed 57.1 percent of his passes.


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2. Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith
Why he's the guy: Smith put up the best combine numbers of the top left tackles in the draft. His 33 repetitions on the bench press and 5.22 time in the 40-yard dash both ranked in the top 10 of all offensive linemen. It seems clear he could step in as an immediate starter at one of the game's most important positions.

Why he isn't: The tackle position in this draft is said to be exceptionally deep, and it's possible the Lions could get an immediate starter either with the No. 20 or No. 33 overall pick. Smith might well emerge as the top tackle in the draft, but is he a player worthy of the No. 1 pick overall? That hasn't been determined.


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3. Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry
Why he's the guy: Nothing injects life into a moribund defense more than a big-time playmaker, and Curry has the capacity to step in right away at a key position of need: Strongside linebacker. Coach Jim Schwartz has noted the Lions have a deeper personnel deficit on defense than offense, and spoke glowingly of Curry at the combine.

Why he isn't: Curry is built like a middle linebacker but has never played there, and it's difficult to imagine the Lions would move Ernie Sims out of the weakside position. The linebacker position isn't often considered crucial enough to merit a No. 1 overall pick, especially for a 4-3 team.


Quote:
4. Virginia offensive lineman Eugene Monroe
Why he's the guy: The Lions indicated a heavy level of interest prior to the combine. He is probably more athletic than Smith and has more room to grow. Like Smith, there are no character flaws.

Why he isn't: We downgraded Monroe a bit after a less-impressive combine performance that included 22 repetitions on the bench press. At the moment, Smith is stronger and better prepared to step in right away. This comparison, of course, could change over the next few months.

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February 22nd, 2009, 8:03 pm
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He seems to imply that Curry would have to play either MLB or WLB (he talks about Detroit not wanting to move Sims). We have a hole at SLB, too, though, Curry's natural position. Not sure what that's all about.


February 23rd, 2009, 8:34 am
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I think he's getting at this point... A SSLB doesn't usually play on passing downs, where your nickel corner moves in; so do you really pick someone at number 1 that won't even play every down on his side of the ball? Everyone that I've seen make this argument does it pretty convincingly.

Now, I've heard that Curry can drop into coverage and handle some pressure... but can he constantly man a slot receiver in the NFL? If not, he cannot go number 1 to a team and play 2/3 of the downs on defense.

Then there is also the talk of him playing Mike, but he himself acknowledges that he only practiced in that slot 5 or 6 times. Do you pick someone at number 1 that hasn't played the position you are asking him to play?

I think the only way that we take Curry at 1 is if we are willing to move Sims, and then where do you put him?

Curry would be a great pick at anywhere but #1... it's really tough to take an OLB 1 and not get your proper value back in return.


February 23rd, 2009, 8:45 am
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That has been my main concern against curry, he's a great LB but we don't have a need at LB, we need an ILB. Laurinaitis imo is the best value right now at ILB, unless Schwartz is confident he can make Curry an ILB.

And as far as our need at SLB goes, I think its a position thats not all that important and I think Dizon could step in and be a pretty good SLB.


February 23rd, 2009, 12:22 pm
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I will admit I am not a know all but I do believe that Curry has the tools to be a Mike backer in a 4-3 defense based on what I have read from scouts. Curry may not have played that position much if at all.. but I keep hearing about how he can handle coverage, I say we draft him b/c I am sure we can find a place for him whether it be Sam or Mike.. and IF he does play Sam.. why can't him and Sims be the 2 backers out there in Nickel situations? Since, as previously mentioned he can cover.

I still say take Curry #1

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February 23rd, 2009, 1:31 pm
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I'm not a know it all either, and I think Curry's definitely built like an MLB, but the question is, do we want to draft someone for a position he never played before with our FIRST pick?


February 23rd, 2009, 2:23 pm
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Trying to find a reason not to draft Aaron Curry by looking for any faults he has is like grasping for air. I've seen enough of him to know it's not going to matter where you line him up.

Like Schwartz said, he possesses a surprising set of mutually exclusive skill sets which makes him extremely versatile. I think his ability to shed blockers may even allow him to line up at End to rush the passer sometimes.

He just ran a unofficial 4.54 40 time, that's faster than a bunch of receivers here at the combine so he can probably turn and run with one on a go route as well.

Look, he has all the tools. But it's his instinctiveness that should allow him to succeed anywhere you line him up.

Believe me, this is not a two down line backer.

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February 23rd, 2009, 2:38 pm
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Honolulu_Blue wrote:
Trying to find a reason not to draft Aaron Curry by looking for any faults he has is like grasping for air. I've seen enough of him to know it's not going to matter where you line him up.

Like Schwartz said, he possesses a surprising set of mutually exclusive skill sets which makes him extremely versatile. I think his ability to shed blockers may even allow him to line up at End to rush the passer sometimes.

He just ran a unofficial 4.54 40 time, that's faster than a bunch of receivers here at the combine so he can probably turn and run with one on a go route as well.

Look, he has all the tools. But it's his instinctiveness that should allow him to succeed anywhere you line him up.

Believe me, this is not a two down line backer.


I believe you.... he is MORE than a 2 down backer.

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February 23rd, 2009, 3:02 pm
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LionsFan4Life wrote:
Honolulu_Blue wrote:
Trying to find a reason not to draft Aaron Curry by looking for any faults he has is like grasping for air. I've seen enough of him to know it's not going to matter where you line him up.

Like Schwartz said, he possesses a surprising set of mutually exclusive skill sets which makes him extremely versatile. I think his ability to shed blockers may even allow him to line up at End to rush the passer sometimes.

He just ran a unofficial 4.54 40 time, that's faster than a bunch of receivers here at the combine so he can probably turn and run with one on a go route as well.

Look, he has all the tools. But it's his instinctiveness that should allow him to succeed anywhere you line him up.

Believe me, this is not a two down line backer.


I believe you.... he is MORE than a 2 down backer.


I guarantee he will make Sims better.


February 23rd, 2009, 3:14 pm
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Since Oher looks to be slipping and we might be able to snag him with #20 I think I would be good with picking Curry #1.


February 23rd, 2009, 3:47 pm
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Couldn't find a good thread to post this in. From Peter King's MMQB:

Quote:
Matthew Stafford is going to be a conundrum for teams in the next two months.

I write about Stafford, the Georgia quarterback pegged to be a top 10 pick and the first quarterback to go in the draft, for this week's Sports Illustrated. I liked him a lot. He's an engaging kid, confident bordering on cocky but not obnoxiously so. I found it interesting that when he was working out at Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz., this winter, he wasn't at all fazed or intimidated by the other star athletes in the house. Dustin Pedroia, for instance, the American League Most Valuable Player, was working out at the same API facility, and Stafford had no problem giving it back to Pedroia when the barbs started flying. Once, when Stafford's visage appeared on ESPN during a training session, Pedroia yelled out, "Oh look! We're in the presence of GREATNESS!'' The mental book on Stafford is he's a great huddle guy, his teammates like him, and he'll be fine in the leadership vein.

Football? Great thrower of the ball, just-OK escapability, made some dumb throws, never turned into the great player some thought he'd be. The Lions had dinner with him in Indy on Thursday night, and coach Jim Schwartz sounded like he was very much on the fence -- as he should be this far from draft day -- about him.

"He answered a lot of questions,'' Schwartz told me last night. "He left us with more work to do. You're not going to invest the money that we're going to invest without being extremely thorough with a decision like that, obviously. He's excited about it, which I like. Excited about the chance to be the first pick. He has a pretty good background, and a good knowledge of the history of the game. He talks about Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, and he wants to be included with the great ones.

"But it's just too early to tell. There was a lot of discussion about Matt Ryan last year, and what some people perceived as some weaknesses in his game. I remember all those discussions. Those evaluations underestimated him. We're going to need some time to answer a lot of questions about him, and about the other guys at the top of the draft.''

The Lions delegation had dinner with USC quarterback Mark Sanchez on Friday night and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry on Sunday night. I expect all of them, and more, to be making trips to Detroit in the next eight weeks.


February 23rd, 2009, 4:58 pm
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Honolulu_Blue wrote:
Trying to find a reason not to draft Aaron Curry by looking for any faults he has is like grasping for air. I've seen enough of him to know it's not going to matter where you line him up.

Like Schwartz said, he possesses a surprising set of mutually exclusive skill sets which makes him extremely versatile. I think his ability to shed blockers may even allow him to line up at End to rush the passer sometimes.

He just ran a unofficial 4.54 40 time, that's faster than a bunch of receivers here at the combine so he can probably turn and run with one on a go route as well.

Look, he has all the tools. But it's his instinctiveness that should allow him to succeed anywhere you line him up.

Believe me, this is not a two down line backer.

I think he has Adalius Thomas type ability


February 23rd, 2009, 6:19 pm
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Quote:
The Lions delegation had dinner with USC quarterback Mark Sanchez on Friday night and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry on Sunday night. I expect all of them, and more, to be making trips to Detroit in the next eight weeks.


I take this as confirmation that Curry is under consideration at the #1 spot by the Lions. I'm curious if we have, or will, bring in any of the tackles now. I'm curious also, if they do, which one(s) they choose.

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February 23rd, 2009, 10:53 pm
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inheritedlionsfan wrote:
Since Oher looks to be slipping and we might be able to snag him with #20 I think I would be good with picking Curry #1.


Supply and demand may help Oher.

Andre Smith is the guy who has likely SLIPPED the most.... which may help Oher more than anybody else. There are 2 OTs clearly above the rest as of this moment..... and Oher is likely ahead of Andre Smith after the combine fiasco.


February 23rd, 2009, 10:56 pm
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Here's Curry's newswire from NFLDraftScout.com (Paysite)

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02/23/09 - Aaron Curry finished his final scouting combine drill — the 60-yard shuttle — and launched into a summersault, landed on his back near the 35-yard line on the Lucas Oil Stadium fieldturf, and threw his arms out wide as he looked up at the ceiling. Exhale. It’s over. “It’s always been a childhood dream to come out here to the NFL combine and perform,” said Curry, still breathing heavy from the final drill. “For so long I watched all of the other athletes perform and I always said ‘I want to be like him. I want to be better than him.’ I’m just amazed by the talent that has been out here and to know that I was out here now and somebody out in the world is saying, ‘Wow.’ “To be able to go through all the drills, and then at the end of the agility I finished strong. It’s been a great, great five days. Then a summersault to top it off.” Perform he did. Curry likely cemented his resume– and his ascending draft status — with an impressive performance Monday. All he did was finish first among linebackers in three of the first four drills tested — 40-yard dash (4.56), vert jump (37.0) and broad jump (10'4). He displayed his blend of size and speed during linebacker drills. The buzz at the combine is that Curry is the “safest” pick in the draft. - Frank Tadych, NFL.com

02/23/09 - Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry cemented himself as an elite top prospect (probable top three overall) for the 2009 draft posting the top official 40 time among linebackers (4.56) within his 254 pound frame. Curry showed an outgoing personality all weekend, even during his workouts, to match his skill set as well as conducting interviews that were the absolute hit of the combine in both the media and NFL meeting rooms. - NFL Draft Scout

02/23/09 - “I want teams to know that my personality and my character are contagious. I’m a hard worker on and off the field. When Aaron Curry steps in the weight room, he’s serious. He’s working hard and he’s going to go until the whistle blows. “You’re going to have to drag Aaron Curry out of the weight room. You’re going to have to drag Aaron Curry off the practice field, out of the film room. You’re going to have to tell Curry to chill out on some charities and community service because you’ve got practice today. “That’s just the type of person I am. I have some dreams of doing some special things as an NFL player, to take advantage of being an NFL player and do some charity things.” Curry also has some NFL bloodlines. His father, Reggie Pinkney, was a star at East Carolina and played safety for Detroit and the Baltimore Colts. They have some contact but did not have a close relationship when Curry was a youngster. - Randy Covitz, Kansas City Star

02/23/09 - Curry has been in intense preparation for the combine since finishing up his senior season at Wake Forest in December. He signed up with one of the leading agencies representing professional athletes, Octagon, which immediately dispatched him to the Athlete Performance Institute in Phoenix, Az. At API, Curry has been training since after Christmas with other potential draft picks such as Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis, Penn State center A.Q. Shipley and Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith. Like Curry, most of those players are being touted for first-round status in all the mock drafts. Several of the “mocks’’ had Curry actually going No. 1 to the Detroit Lions. But most have the 6-foot-2, 247-pounder being taken between the third (Kansas City) and fifth picks (Cleveland). The lowest I’ve seen Curry fall in the draft order is ninth to the Green Bay Packers. Such high draft predictions might keep some top prospects away from the combine because they don’t feel they have anything to prove there. Others may attend the combine, but not take part in all the tests. Curry probably doesn’t have much to gain by participating. But knowing Aaron’s competitive nature, it’s not surprising he’s opted to attend anyway simply to see how he stacks up against the other best players available for the draft. - Sammy Batten, The Fayetteville Observer

02/23/09 - I officially have a Bryan Burwell-size man-crush on Aaron Curry, the linebacker from Wake Forest. On Saturday, he produced one of the best interviews in years at the NFL Scouting Combine. He oozed charisma, and the guy can play. Looking for a face of the franchise, Rams? - Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

02/23/09 - Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, who some NFL analysts call the "safest pick'' in the draft, could be the target of the Detroit Lions who have the first overall pick. "It would be a dream come true,'' Curry said today at the scouting combine. "If I could pick, sure, I'd love to go No. 1. It'd be a great feeling to go to Detroit and play alongside Ernie Sims.'' Curry, though, didn't stop there. Curry was then asked about the possibility of playing for the Rams (who have the No. 2 pick), the Chiefs (who have the No. 3 choice) and the Cleveland Browns (who pick fifth). Curry was equally excited about the prospect of playing for those teams, too, pointing out positives with each club. Curry summed it up by saying, "I just want to play linebacker.'' - Tom Kowalski, Michigan Live

02/21/09 - Used in college..."at wake forest I was used a majority of the time in the 9-technique. we played a 4-3 under and I would play on top of the tight end most of the time unless we had a different scheme for that week, but most of the time I was just an outside linebacker, a sam...(in pros) with my versatility, i can play the sam, mike and will in 4-3. coach (brad)lambert at wake forest did a great job of preparing me to play any position. he never allowed any of our lbs to focus on any one position. we had to play them all...(workout here) yes sir...(goal first pick?)don't we all? we all want to be the no. 1 pick overall, but it's all going to go on what detroit needs, as far as their personnel., it would be great to go no. 1 overall and detroit knows that in aaron curry, they'd get a great linebacker, a great person, i mean, what more can you ask for?...(best player in draft?)I'd just say that I work hard and I play hard all the time. some poeple say I'm the best and some people don't and I'm just going to keep grinding. (sacks) we didn't do a lot of blitzing as far as sending the sam a lot. we did a lot of blitzing against the run. we wanted to disturb the run fits. but we sat back and dared offenses to try to beat us man up. - Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry Combine Transcript

02/21/09 - OLB Aaron Curry weighed in at 6-2 and 254 pounds. Given a third-round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee last year, Curry is now considered to be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. He also said he's well-versed in the assignments for all three linebacker positions, even though he has very limited playing experience in the middle. Curry said the weak-side spot might be the most fun, although the majority of his time at Wake Forest came while playing over the tight end in the nine-technique.

02/19/09 - This four-year standout wants to lay down the law on and off the field. An aggressive enforcer on the field, Curry also plans to attend law school even as he pursues a football career. He gets everything right mentally and physically, showing he understands how to read, diagnose and react quickly. He uses his long arms and strong hands to control blockers. Best suited to play strong-side linebacker, Curry can still drop into pass coverage and can be effective in space. He appears more tight than fluid while changing direction but shows an instinct for finding and reacting to the ball in the air, as evidenced in 2007 when he returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Still, his strength is strength, which he uses to manhandle blockers and ball carriers while making a slew of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He won the 2008 Dick Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and has been compared to Keith Bulluck of the Tennessee Titans. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange, NFL Draft Scout

02/11/09 - PRO POTENTIAL: LB Aaron Curry played himself into a high-round draft pick with a spectacular senior season that earned him Butkus Award honors as the nation's top linebacker. He's 6-3, 240, and has good speed that makes him a solid hitter. He didn't have a lot of sacks in his career (9.5), but did have six career interceptions.


While Aaron Curry's outstanding combine performance and his enchanting of the media/scouts/team personnell during his presser and interviews heighten the peace of mind of taking Curry with the no. 1 overall, it does something else. I think it's creating a market for him. I'm sure a lot of other fans of other teams, and other teams scouts are falling for this prospect much the way many of us are. So what happens when there's a buzz around one particular player?

That's right, trade-down opportunity. And the more accolades he recieves, the more bullet-proof he becomes, the more the lions can absolutely fleece a team smitten by him.

I'm sure phunny would love that.

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February 24th, 2009, 4:46 am
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