Last night, I started in on my way home from work, and turned the radio to the Huge Show, a Grand Rapids-based syndicated sports talk show. Almost immediately after I turned it on, who comes on as a guest? Aaron Curry. Go ahead and listen to the interview right here; believe me when I say it is worth the time.
When Simonson said "Aaron, I know that right now, Lions fans are crying in their cars, praying to God that the Lions draft you number one overall", I laughed out loud because that was nearly what I was doing. This kid sounds like a true gem: an intelligent, dedicated, hardworking young man who puts his family first, excellence second; little else rates at all. He speaks of leadership, of committment, of character. But moreover he speaks of tenacity, of relentlessness. What he said to elicit that quote out of Huge was naming one classic and one modern player whose game he patterns himself after: Lawrence Taylor and Ray Lewis.
Of course, talk is cheap, so I decided to go to the definitive criterion on whether or not a player is any good: YouTube highlight reels. There are several out there on Curry, some with better quality than others. This one is my favorite (make sure you enable high quality!).
The thing that dropped my jaw most was not the breathtaking pass rush ability, the big hits, the interceptions, the incredible awareness, or the great open field tackling. No, what dropped my jaw is that all of those things were on the same highlight reel. Normally with these things, you have (for example) the famous Sam McGuffie mixtape--where you get an unbroken string of Sanderseque run after Sandersesque run. You're not going to see McGuffie move the pile. You're not going to see him flex out to WR. You're not going to see him taking snaps at QB. You're going to see a kid doing the one thing he does really well, over and over and over and over.
Curry did EVERYTHING exceptionally well at Wake. He'd line up at the end of the line, put a hand down, and rush the passer like an end--and look like Freeney coming around the corner. He'd do the same on rushing downs, standing up tight ends, shedding blocks, and making tackles at the line. He'd play traditional on-ball SAM, blanketing the TE and breaking up passes. He'd drop deep into coverage, read the QBs eyes, break on the ball like a safety, pick passes off and motor past everyone on the field for the TD. He'd blitz from the outside and absolutely eat quarterbacks. I love his open-field tackling; after watching the Lions needing four or five guys to bring anybody down, having a guy who can square up, hit, wrap, and bring a guy down with no help would be heaven. His read/recognition skills are unbelievable; on all of the highlights you'll see him sniff out screens (once on Mr. Popularity Darrius Heyward-Bey), recognize reverses, and fail to fall for fakes. There's one play against Navy where the QB does two fake handoffs, and Curry blows off the snap and goes right for the QB. He never flinches on either fake and drops the QB before he's even done with the second fake. The "Jacked Up"-worthy hit drove the QB into the turf, and he didn't get out of the turf until the trainers came for him.
I cannot explain to you how desperately we need this young man on our team.