I’ve been going nuts trying to figure out which player will take on which role in the new defense. I’ve got 655321 theories and they are all highly flawed. One interesting theory occurred to me last night. Could Vinny Curry be the the SAM LB? I was watching tape and doing research on draft prospects. There are some guys to like, but you can’t be sure you’ll get a SAM. You need to have a possible answer prior to the draft.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to project Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and Curry. You really would like all 3 guys on the field this year. If Cole starts at the Predator spot, what do you do with the other 2 guys? Graham would likely be a backup and situational rusher. He doesn’t have the size or athleticism to be a SAM. Brandon is 6013. That is 6-1 3/8. It looks like Bill Davis prefers OLBs that are in the 6-3 to 6-5 range. Graham was a good athlete prior to microfracture surgery, but at this point he’s more of a straight-ahead rusher than change-of-direction player.
With Cole and Graham at the Predator spots, Curry needs to get on the field somewhere. What about SAM? Sheil Kapadia cited Pro Football Focus stats in his article the other day and wrote that the OLB for Davis was rushing 70 percent of the time and dropping 30 percent. Could Curry handle being in coverage 30 percent of the time?
Curry is 6-3, 266. That is pretty good size. The coaches could have him drop down to 255 and that would be close to an ideal build for a SAM. Curry has minimal coverage experience. He was a pass rusher at Marshall and last season with the Eagles. He is a pretty good athlete. Curry did the 3-cone drill in 6.90 at the Scouting Combine. That was tied for 3rd among DL. He did 4.40 in the Short Shuttle. That was down below 15th in the DL rankings. Curry ran a 4.69 at his Pro Day, which is plenty of speed for SAM.
I don’t think Curry is ever going to be good in coverage. You wonder if he could be good enough. Go back to the stats. He would rush about 70 percent of the time. The reason you have him cover 30 percent of the snaps is to keep the offense off balance. You don’t want them knowing who is rushing on every play. You need the LB to be effective as a cover guy so that those plays when you do drop him back he can be functional. You don’t expect him to shut down TEs or RBs. Just stay close and make the tackle. Get in the passing lanes and bother the QB when possible. In order to do this the SAM needs speed, quickness, agility, and to be comfortable playing in space.
Let’s take a look at some Vinny Curry videos.
Watching those videos you can see that Curry has good change-of-direction ability. He’s very good on the move. Makes a lot of hustle plays. That’s big at LB. You must be able to run and chase the ball. You see in the highlight video that Curry can read plays and move laterally to get the ball. Again, that’s key at LB.
Here is one of EagleJake’s preseason videos. Curry vs PIT.
You can’t see all that much in terms of projecting him to LB. He does hustle and run well. That’s about it.
The Eagles did sign Chris McCoy last week. He’s 6-3, 261 and a LB/DE tweener from the CFL. I’m sure he’s here as depth for SAM.
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Now for some draft talk.
The 2 prospects who would be perfect SAMs for us are Barkevious Mingo and Dion Jordan. The problem is that I don’t know either guy is worth #4 and I can’t realistically see either one being on the board for our 2nd round pick.
Mingo lists at 6-5, 240. He isn’t the most physical player in the world, but is a great athlete. He makes some moves that will take your breath away. Some think his 4.5 sacks is a red flag. How could such an athletic guy post such pedestrian numbers? That is a legit question. One thing I can say is that LSU mixed in mush-rushing this year. This is something you do vs mobile QBs. Rather than firing upfield out of control, you rush under control and try to keep the QB in the pocket. You sacrifice sacks, but limit a QB’s ability to get outside the pocket and either run or throw on the run. This worked great against Johnny Football. Texas A&M only scored 19 points.
Jordan went to Oregon as a WR. He is now 6-7, 243. They realized a while ago that he needed to move and put him at LB/DE. Jordan has good cover skills. I’ve seen him stick with WRs 20 yards downfield. He finished his career with 14.5 sacks, splitting time as a pass rusher with being a LB.
There are some other prospects to take a look at, but Jordan and Mingo are in a league of their own in terms of size, pass rush ability, and athleticism.
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Misc Draft Talk
* Someone asked on Twitter if I could explain why some players are great in college, but are not considered good pro prospects. You have to understand that college football sends about 350 guys a year to the NFL. That’s from approx 200 colleges. There are very few really good NFL prospects at each school. College football is mainly played by guys who have little to no shot at the NFL. Being a star in college isn’t that hard because you aren’t consistently facing great competition.
The NFL is the best of the best. College is a step down. High school is a step below that. Just because you are a star in high school doesn’t mean you’ll be a star in college. Just because you’re a star in college doesn’t mean that will be true in the NFL. As the size, speed, skill, and overall level of talent goes up, it is harder to succeed.
* There was a report last week that the Eagles liked Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib. Good player, not great. I do not think he would be a target at pick #4. I’d have no problem with Nassib in the 2nd round. Nassib is a good athlete. He’s not a runner per se, but is mobile. He also throws well on the move. Nassib has a good arm. His deep ball needs work, though. He is good on short and intermediate throws. I could see him as a good fit for running Chip Kelly’s offense. Nassib could give you the 5-yard runs to make some of the zone read stuff work. He is a good passer.
Are the Eagles really interested? Hard to say. Reports like this have to be taken with a grain of salt. Could be leaked by Nassib’s agent to make his player seem popular. Could have been leaked by the Eagles to make teams not realize who the Eagles really like. Or it might be legit.
* I really do like the CB and S class. Not just up high either. I hope the Eagles come away from this draft with at least 3 DBs. There will be pro additions as well. One guy a bit under the radar now is Cal CB Marc Anthony. He’s 5-11, 191. Can press and be physical or play off. Impressed me at the Senior Bowl and when watching Cal. Probably a mid-round pick. Chip Kelly faced him for 4 years and probably has a good feel for how good of a player Anthony is or isn’t. The Pac-12 has quite a few CB prospects. Will be interesting to see if we take one.
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