Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Aaron Curry
Aaron Curry (OLB)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 254
College: Wake Forest
Conference: ACC
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
High School: E.E. Smith HS
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Seattle Seahawks
Round: 1
Pick (Overall): 4 (4)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The Seahawks add Curry to a defense that features a pair of standout young linebackers (Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill). Though the financial commitment to the trio is significant, the team has the flexibility to attack offenses in a variety of ways due to the dynamic skills of each player. The 'Hawks are expected to transition into a blue-collar unit under Jim Mora, and this is a key step.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

The 2008 Butkus Award winner, given to the nation's top linebacker, Curry so impressed the award's namesake that Dick Butkus surprised him in early December when he arrived on campus to personally hand the award to its recipient.


Curry started 49 of the 51 games he appeared in, going on to rank third in school annals with 45.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The All-American defender also finished ninth on Wake Forest's all-time record list with 332 total tackles.


Curry outstanding field vision and ball awareness skills saw him not only wreak havoc in the opposition's backfield on the blitz, but also excel in pass coverage. He returned three of his four interceptions for touchdowns as a junior, tying the NCAA single-season record for linebackers that was first set by Malcolm Postell of Pittsburgh, who also had three in 2004. Only cornerback Deltha O'Neal of California scored more on interception returns in a season (four in 1999) in major college annals.


Curry gained a total of 226 yards on those interception returns in 2007, setting the school and Atlantic Coast Conference single-season records. He was just the third player in league annals to gain more than 200 yards on interception returns in a season. His 226 yards placed fifth in NCAA history, becoming the 10th college player to gain more than 200 yards.


At E.E. Smith High School, Curry was a standout outside linebacker and tight end. He was named Conference Defensive Player of the Year and also earned All-Conference and All-Region honors after registering 123 tackles during his senior year. He was selected to the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl as a tight end.


Curry was the prize recruit from Wake Forest's 2004 class, but spent the season performing on the scout team. He entered 2005 fall camp behind Caron Bracy and James Adams at strong-side outside linebacker, but emerged as the starter at that position for 10 games, earning Freshman All-American second-team honors. He collected 45 tackles (28 solos) with a 15-yard sack and 7.5 stops for losses. He also blocked a punt that he recovered for a 13-yard return.


Curry started all 14 games at strong-side linebacker in 2006. He finished second on the squad with 83 tackles (52 solos), including 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and three sacks. His first career interception came vs. Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game, returning the ball 30 yards to set up a scoring drive.


Curry was named second-team All-American in 2007, twice receiving ACC Player of the Week honors. The strong-side linebacker started 12 games, snapping a sting of 30 consecutive starts when he came off the bench vs. Navy (was punished by the coaching staff for missing class prior to that contest). He delivered 99 tackles (61 solos) with three sacks and led the team with 13.5 stops for loss. His 226 yards via four interception returns set the school single-season record, as his 84-yard run back vs. Army was the fifth-longest interception return in Demon Deacon history.


The All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team choice led the team with a career-high 105 tackles (66 solos). The Butkus Award winner also paced the defense with 16 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, adding 2.5 sacks with an interception, as he also recovered three fumbles, caused another and broke up three passes.


High School

Attended E.E. Smith (Fayetteville, N.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Mike Earwood...Standout outside linebacker and tight end...Named Conference Defensive Player of the Year and also earned All-Conference and All-Region honors after registering 123 tackles during his senior year...Selected to the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl as a tight end.


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Analysis

Positives: Strongly-built with long arms to keep himself off offensive linemen when playing against the run. Very smooth in pass drops, staying low in his backpedal and getting into depth at the proper angles. Good hands for the interception, and can break up passes using his hands or a big hit over the middle. Plays the nine-technique very well, ripping off the tackle's block and getting to the ballcarrier on inside and outside runs. Also closes on the ball quickly when playing in the stack. Able to shed blocks and go through backs on blitzes. Will pop the fullback and create a pile to stuff inside runs. Shows good awareness on misdirection, quickly diagnosing plays and affecting the success of the play. Gets a lot of attention from opponents on special teams because of his size, speed and aggressiveness in kick return coverage.


Negatives: A bit stiff in the upper body, he tends to succeed most in straight-line situations rather than changing directions quickly. Can get to the quarterback on the blitz but doesn't always make the play. Doesn't explode into tackles consistently, using his long arms to try and wrap up.


Compares To: DERRICK JOHNSON, Kansas City -- 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.


Injury Report

No major injuries reported.


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