Sports

Curry might be safe pick for Hawks

RENTON – What’s not to like about Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry?

Physically he tested off the charts during February’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, posting top marks for linebackers in 40-yard time (4.56 seconds), vertical jump (37 inches) and standing broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches), while also bench pressing 225 pounds 25 times.

Along with his physical prowess, Curry also is considered a smart player who studies the game and knows where he should be and where others on the defensive side of the ball should be on every play.

Lastly, he’s a man of character – a must if you want to be seriously considered by Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell. Curry invited 12-year-old Bryson Merriweather from Alabama, a leukemia survivor, to share draft day with him in New York on Saturday.

“He is a selfless kid who is exactly what you’re trying to build your locker room around,” said Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, who has Curry going to Seattle with the fourth pick overall in his latest mock draft.

The Seahawks seem to like Curry and think he would be a good fit for their team, particularly after parting ways with Pro Bowl player Julian Peterson in an offseason trade with Detroit. Seattle has done its homework. The Seahawks worked out Curry at Wake Forest, and also brought him in for a visit at their Renton practice facility.

“I think Aaron Curry can do a lot of things well,” Ruston Webster, the team’s vice president of player personnel, said Thursday. “He has some ability to blitz. (Coach Jim Mora) talked about the differences between a rusher and a blitzer. He has the ability and he has a feel in coverage. He’s a smart player, big, fast – all of those good things.”

Curry, 22, is the safe pick Ruskell covets as he attempts to turn around the Seahawks after a disappointing 4-12 season. Curry is considered by some experts as the best overall player in the draft. But will he be available when Seattle selects? Curry is reportedly the Detroit Lions’ backup plan if they can’t lock up a contract with Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. And Kansas City is projected by several mock drafts to be selecting Curry at No. 3.

However, some NFL observers are unsure about Curry’s ability to rush the passer, and see him falling lower in the draft.

Ruskell said the Seahawks have identified their top four draft prospects. Although he didn’t name them, they will likely select one of three players – Curry, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree or USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Mora said it’s important to get someone who meshes well with the team and the organization.

blogs.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

Linebackers to consider

Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, reviews players Seattle might take during each round.

Round 1, fourth pick

Aaron Curry, 6-2, 254, Wake Forest

Rob’s rationale: My highest rated prospect for the 2009 draft. Would fill the hole left by Peterson trade.

Round 2, 37th pick

Clay Matthews Jr, 6-3, 240, USC

Rob’s rationale: Not likely to be available, but could slip because he started only one season.

Round 3, 68th pick

Marcus Freeman, 6-1, 239, Ohio State

Rob’s rationale: James Laurinaitis gets all the hype, but Freeman has greater potential.

Round 4, 105th pick

Tyrone McKenzie, 6-2, 243, South Florida

Rob’s rationale: Instinctive and productive; marginal agility for coverage could cause a slide.

Round 5, 137th pick

Scott McKillop, 6-1, 244, Pittsburgh

Rob’s rationale: Not a great athlete, but excellent instincts, sure tackler.

Round 6, 178th pick

Kaluka Maiava, 6-0, 229, USC

Rob’s rationale: “Forgotten” starter will be fourth Trojans linebacker drafted in 2009.

Round 7, 213th pick

Nick Reed, 6-2, 245, Oregon

Rob’s rationale: Projected as inside backer by some, he has production of Pro Bowl player, looks like a PBA bowler.

Defensive backs to consider

Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, reviews players Seattle might take during each round.

Round 1, fourth pick

Malcolm Jenkins, 6-0, 204, Ohio State

Rob’s rationale: Returned for senior season despite first-round grade and won the Thorpe Award as nation’s top DB.

Round 2, 37th pick

Patrick Chung, 5-11, 207, Oregon

Rob’s rationale: Versatile, durable. Can be over-aggressive, but among the draft’s most reliable open field tacklers.

Round 3, 68th pick

Mike Mickens, 6-0, 186, Cincinnati

Rob’s rationale: Natural playmaker with the size Seattle is missing at cornerback.

Round 4, 105th pick

Michael Hamlin, 6-2, 214, Clemson

Rob’s rationale: No relation to former Seahawks safety Ken, but also a playmaker with 19 career interceptions.

Round 5, 137th pick

Glover Quin, 5-11, 204, New Mexico

Rob’s rationale: Versatile defender capable of playing corner and safety.

Round 6, 178th pick

Cary Harris, 6-0, 187, USC

Rob’s rationale: Underrated corner falling due to poor workouts. Great value here.

Round 7, 213th pick

Jamarca Sanford, 5-10, 214, Mississippi

Rob’s rationale: Not flashy, but a consistent defender who surprised scouts with his athleticism in workouts.

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