The Chicago Bears are in the market for a defensive end. This much we know.
The Bears re-signed Israel Idonije last week, but for just one season. The 32-year-old is still a decent all-around player but he doesn't provide consistent pass rush. His 5.0 sacks last season were disappointing considering the attention opposing offenses paid Julius Peppers. The one-year deal means the club doesn't view him as a long-term option.
Chicago has acquired nine players since the start of free agency. Taking on those contracts, plus applying a $7.7-million franchise tag on Matt Forte, has eaten up a large chunk of the team's salary cap space.
Right now, the club is just $7.5 million under the cap, with roughly $4 million earmarked for the incoming draft class.
As such, it's likely they'll turn to the draft to find a defensive end that can complement Peppers on passing downs.
DE Vinny Curry
Greg Bartram/US Presswire
That player could be Vinny Curry. He performed at Marshall's pro day last week and the Bears were in attendance.
Curry (6-3, 266) was highly productive in college playing in Conference USA. In 2011, the senior amassed 77 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, seven forced fumbles and three blocked kicks, earning him Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors. He finished his collegiate career with 26 sacks, 49 tackles for a loss and 10 forced fumbles.
Curry did not perform well at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. He ran a 4.98 40, which is very poor for a potential speed rusher, and ranked low in almost all the other drills as well. He did show good quickness in the three-cone drill (6.90), finishing third amongst defensive linemen.
Let's see what the tape shows:
-Uses strong hands well to maintain space and separate from blockers against the run.
-Never gives up on a play. Often chases down ball carriers from behind.
-Can set the edge against the run and shows good lateral speed.
-Uses a powerful bull rush. Knows how to throw blockers off balance and explode around the edge.
-In pure passing situations, he's extremely quick off the ball.
-Can play on either side of the line.
-Does not explode off the ball on every down. Often comes off slow and high.
-Besides a bull rush, his pass rush arsenal is limited.
-Lacks ideal awareness against the run. Often gets lost trying to diagnose plays as they happen.
-Relies mostly on athleticism. His game is far from polished.
-Slow changing directions.
Curry did well for himself at the recent Marshall pro day. He cut his 40 time down to 4.64 and scouts were impressed with his workouts. At the Senior Bowl, he held his own against the top competition in the country and had two sacks in that contest.
There is no doubt that, in a few years, Curry can be a starting defensive end in the NFL. He's strong enough and athletic enough to compete at the next level. Yet it's going to take a few seasons.
He was very productive in college but lacks the speed and quickness to consistently turn the corner against NFL offensive tackles. His lack of awareness against the run will hurt him on first and second down.
Curry shows potential as an all-around defensive end but it's unlikely he'll be a double-digit sack performer in the pros. His game is reminiscent of former Chicago DE Alex Brown.
He is currently ranked between 40th and 50th overall by the majority of draft analysts. His pro day has some folks thinking he'll now sneak into the first round. That seems unlikely though, as he just doesn't possess first-round talent.
That said, he does flash signs of being a big-time producer. If a coach can get him to play at full speed on every down, and help refine his technique, he could turn into something special.
There's a chance Curry could fall to the Bears in the second round. If he does, and GM Phil Emery hasn't already addressed defensive end, expect the club to give him strong consideration.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.