Tag:Alphonso Smith
Posted on: September 28, 2011 4:05 pm
 

The curious disappearance of Aaron Curry

When the Seattle Seahawks selected outside linebacker Aaron Curry out of Wake Forest with the fourth overall pick of the 2009 draft most believed they'd added the safest pick of the class.

Two years and two games later, Aaron Curry was benched in favor of 2011 fourth round pick KJ Wright.

Now, there is plenty of speculation that the Seahawks are looking to unload the former Butkus-award winner. Some believe the team will even consider cutting Curry outright should the team not get a suitable offer before the trade deadline.

Like virtually every one else, I lauded Seattle's selection of Curry at the time. I had done my research on Curry and virtually every scout I've grown to trust felt the same about him -- he was a future Pro Bowler. 

Blessed with an incredible combination of size, strength and speed, Curry had lit up ACC foes and confirmed his remarkable athleticism with one of the most impressive all-around Combine performances from a linebacker in league history. The former Wake Forest star and I even collaborated on a four-part journal in the months leading up to the draft so I felt comfortable recommending him as a person as well as a prospect.

In a little more than two seasons with the Seahawks, Curry's athleticism, size and strength were obvious, but so too was his lack of instincts. The big plays that had characterized his career with the Demon Deacons suddenly disappeared.

So what happened?

My theory is that I (and, of course, many others) simply missed on Curry. He was a dominant force at outside linebacker in the 4-3 in college largely due to his extraordinary athleticism. Because of his range, Curry was able to beat backs to the outside. His burst upfield made him theoretically a dangerous pass rusher (he was rarely asked to rush in college) and his instincts and ball skills made him a terror in coverage (six career interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns). Curry was also surrounded by talent. Three other Demon Deacons were drafted with Curry in 2009. None of them -- cornerback Alphonso Smith, safety Chip Vaughn and inside linebacker Stanley Arnoux -- have since gone on to enjoy anything close to the pro success that the teams that drafted them had envisioned. Wake Forest had never had four players from one side of the ball ever drafted in a single year. They haven't since. With such rare talent, I believe all four Wake Forest defenders had their strengths highlighted and their weaknesses minimized, leading to inflated grades for all of them.

There are three other thoughts I have on Curry.

One, is that there were warning signs. Curry displayed a troubling tendency to over-run plays even in college. This has been a problem in Seattle, as well. Too often, he's been in position to make the play, but has over-pursued and allowed a cutback lane or bitten hard on play-action and been beaten. This fact led to some (including long-time NFLDraftScout.com draft biographer Dave Te Thomas) to question how well Curry would handle NFL speed playing outside linebacker in a 4-3.

Second, the 2009 draft class simply wasn't that good. Consider that the first 11 picks of the draft were:

Matt Stafford -- Detroit Lions
Jason Smith -- St. Louis Rams
Tyson Jackson -- Kansas City Chiefs
Curry -- Seattle Seahawks
Mark Sanchez -- New York Jets
Andre Smith -- Cincinnati Bengals
Darrius Heyward-Bey -- Oakland Raiders
Eugene Monroe -- Jacksonville Jaguars
B.J. Raji -- Green Bay Packers
Michael Crabtree -- San Francisco 49ers
Aaron Maybin -- Buffalo Bills

If you're reading this, you're an NFL Draft fan. I don't need to tell you that a disproportionate number of these high picks have since struggled in the NFL.

Finally,  I continue to believe Curry can be successful in the NFL. At 6-2, 254 pounds with long arms, he has the frame to consider moving inside. Curry's biggest problem is his lack of instincts. Therefore, I do not believe he'd be successful in Seattle (or inside for any other 4-3 team). However, if protected by another inside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment, Curry could still do what he does best -- create explosive collisions and chase down ball-carriers from behind.

It is a theory that Thomas had prior to Curry being drafted... one that more of us, apparently, should have heeded.

Here is Thomas' summary (and interesting comparison) for Curry:

AARON CURRY -- Like the Chiefs finally realized with Johnson, hopefully the NFL team that drafts Curry will do likewise and play him in the middle. He has very good athleticism making plays in front of him, but bites often on play-action, lacks good depth playing in the zone and is a bit too stiff to generate the sideline-to-sideline range to make impact plays on the outside, where he struggles to stop the runner's forward momentum. He can clog the rush lanes when he stays low in his pads. Put him inside in a 3-4 alignment and he can be equally productive getting to the quarterback as he did in college. Play him on the outside and he will be exposed in a quick and deep passing game. Compares to: Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs


For those who don't recall, Johnson was widely viewed as a bust early in his career while playing outside linebacker for the Chiefs, which ran a 4-3 defense. He has since improved his level of play while playing inside linebacker for the Chiefs' 3-4 alignment.

Should Curry get another chance elsewhere, don't be surprised if he, too, enjoys a career rejuvenation -- especially if he goes to a team that caters to his unique strengths (and hides his unfortunate weaknesses). 


Posted on: August 8, 2010 1:39 pm
 

Rookie WRs Thomas, Decker latest Broncos hurt

The Denver Broncos continue to be one of the league's hardest hit teams this year in terms of players injuries. With star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil having already been knocked out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. The Broncos are hopeful that former first round picks Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers can pick up the slack after Dumervil, who led the league last season with 17 sacks, was injured, but it will take a monumental effort from the two thus-far disappointing pass rushers to complete the job. Moss promptly broke his hand and is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks of training camp. Ayers is healthy, though he and Moss were each healthy last year, as well, and neither contributed a single sack for the Broncos' defense.

The Broncos are hopeful that two of their 2010 draft picks are able to make a quicker transition to the NFL on the offensive side of the ball, but first and third round receivers, DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker now have injury problems of their own to worry about.

Thomas injured his left foot -- the same foot he fractured in a pre-Combine workout that kept him from fully working out for scouts prior to the draft -- in leaping to snatch his second touchdown in Denver's scrimmage last night in front of 20,782 fans at Invesco Field at Mile High.

According to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, the team believed the injury to be the result of scar-tissue created by Thomas' previous injury and subsequent surgery. Thomas' injury will be further evaluated by the team today.

Considering his team's rash of injuries this year and Thomas' past, Denver head coach Josh McDaniels was understandably concerned and cautiously optimistic regarding Thomas' injury when addressing the media after last night's practice.

"
It obviously was a concern right away," McDaniels said. "Yes, that was a concern because it was the same foot, but hopefully if we miss him for a little while, it would be normal for this camp."

Decker's injury could prove to be even worse than Thomas'.

Decker suffered a left foot sprain during the practice, but when team doctors gave Decker an MRI last night they discovered a pre-existing left ankle sprain, as well , according to a report from Josina Anderson of Fox 31 and KDVR.com.

Like Thomas' apparent re-aggravation of a left foot injury, the concern with Decker is that the foot and ankle sprain is complicated due to the fact that the former Golden Gopher star had his collegiate career end prematurely due to a Lisfranc sprain -- one of the more dreaded injuries in football due to its delicate and often time-consuming rehabilitation.

Previous to the injuries, Thomas and Decker had reportedly been quite impressive in practice. Thomas had struggled early, but the 6-3, 224 pound receiver had begun to dazzle onlookers with the leaping ability and rare straight-line speed that allowed him to average an eye-popping 19.49 yards per reception and score 14 touchdowns over his career at Georgia Tech. Decker, 6-2, 215, flashed the soft, reliable hands and surprising body control to make the tough catch he'd consistently shown while catching 228 passes for 3,119 yards and 24 touchdowns for Minnesota.  

The loss of Thomas and/or Decker for any significant time this season could give Denver a second consecutive year with limited output from their rookie class. While the Broncos "other" first round selection -- some guy named Tebow -- looked good in throwing for a touchdown and running for another in Saturday night's scrimmage, he isn't expected to see the field much with Kyle Orton firmly entrenched as the Broncos' starting quarterback.

Last year, despite again having two first round picks, the Broncos received surprisngly little help from their rookie class. Running back Knowshon Moreno was an obvious exception, leading the team with 247 rushing attempts for 947 yards and seven touchdowns -- though he averaged a dismal 3.8 yards per carry. Ayers, selected with the No. 18 overall pick, recorded 19 tackles and zero sacks for the Broncos as a rookie. The Broncos received similar production last year from their three second selections. Cornerback Alphonso Smith, taken 37th overall, recorded 14 tackles. Safety Darcel McBath, taken with the No. 48 pick, led all Denver rookies with 26 tackles. Tight end Richard Quinn, the final pick of the second round, caught zero passes for the Broncos. He recorded two tackles and returned one kick 19 yards while playing special teams in 15 games.
Posted on: April 19, 2010 7:15 pm
 

Denver emerging as new candidate for No. 1 pick?

Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert publicly announced that his team had held conversations with the St. Louis Rams about obtaining the No. 1 overall pick.

It will be interesting to see if the Denver Broncos are as forthcoming with their internal conversations.

I am told that some of the reason that Denver has been asking for picks rather than veteran players in return for Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler is that the club is considering making a significant proposal to the Rams for the first overall pick.

The Broncos feature Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback and recently acquired Brady Quinn, but head coach Josh McDaniels is thought to be very high on Sam Bradford and could see Orton as a stopgap starter until Bradford is ready to take over.

The Broncos own four picks within the draft's top 80 selections, including the 11th overall. Josh McDaniiels has shown a willingness to trade future picks in the past. He traded Denver's 2010 first round pick to Seattle last year for the right to move up in the second round and select Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith.


Posted on: March 23, 2009 7:20 pm
 

Wake Forest Pro Day

 

 All 32 teams were represented at Monday's Pro Day, though the two Demon Deacon headliners -- LB Aaron Curry and CB Alphonso Smith -- chose to stand on their Combine performances and only did positional drills.

Curry electing not to workout wasn't a surprise, as he was arguably the most impressive athlete in Indianapolis. According to those in attendance, Curry was impressive, as expected, in linebacker drills.

Alphonso Smith, on the other, hand surprised some scouts who thought he'd try to prove faster than the pair of electronically timed 4.57s he ran at the Combine. Smith is an established ballhawk, who leaves Wake Forest as the ACC's career leader with 21 interceptions, but the combination of question speed and Smith's height (5-9 exactly) is likely to be enough to push him right out of the first round.

I'm still waiting from some of the scouts who attended the workout to fill me in the details of the other players that worked out Monday. While Curry and Smith are unquestionably the two highest rated players representing Wake Forest, there are several other sleeper candidates to keep an eye on, including inside linebacker Stanley Arnoux, safety Chip Vaughn and receiver DJ Boldin, whose older brother is Arizona standout, Anquan Boldin.

Though I hope to provide more details from the workout earlier, the most intimate details from the Pro Day will come in the next installment of the four-part series I'm writing detailing Aaron Curry's Road to the Draft. I will be interviewing Curry this week on his Pro Day experience and what he is looking forward to the most with his several upcoming private workouts.

 

You can read Part One and Two by copying and pasting the following URLs into your browser.

Part One (Curry's training and preparation for the Combine) here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11399393

Part Two (Curry's post-combine thoughts and prep for the Pro Day) here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11487766

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com