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ESPN analyst high on former Marshall star Curry

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The NFL Draft is less than a month away, and former Marshall football star Vinny Curry is still gaining the attention of scouts and national pundits.

The latest Curry spokesman is Todd McShay, an ESPN analyst who is the director of college scouting for Scouts, Inc.

McShay watched Texas A&M's Pro Day last Thursday and finished his report on Curry during his trip to College Station, Texas.

"I watched the final game I had of him," McShay said Friday during a conference call. "I gave him - let me give you the exact grade - a mid- to late- second round grade.

"I just love the way he plays. He fires off the ball low; he gets good leverage; he has a quick first step."

McShay's most recent ESPN mock draft, which slots draft-eligible players through two rounds, has Curry going at pick No. 55 to the Atlanta Falcons, which jibes with McShay's grade.

Curry, a 6-foot-3, 264-pound defensive end who some teams like as a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, is the 14th defensive lineman and sixth defensive end selected in McShay's mock draft.

McShay's critique peppered in a few black marks against Curry, the 2011 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.

"He's not an elite athlete, but he's athletic enough that he can get off of blocks and he can double-move guys," McShay said. "His motor is always going, it seems.

"I think with his instincts, and the way he plays the game, and the fact that he can get to the quarterback, I think he has a chance to really come in and contribute.

"He's never going to be an elite player because he's not an elite athlete and he doesn't have elite strength. You look at his arms and they're a little shorter than you want and you can pick apart the little things.

"When I watch him he has violent hands, uses his leverage well, always fighting to get to the ball and his motor's always running."

Curry, who hails from Neptune, N.J., has handled the ebbs and flows of the draft journey.

He admittedly struggled at times at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He posted a 4.98 40-yard dash time and had a 32-inch vertical. He did not perform on the bench press.

Then at last month's Pro Day at Marshall, Curry generated considerable buzz in the draft community by improving his 40 to 4.64 seconds and his vertical jump to 35 inches. He bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times.

Draft analyst Russ Lande of The Sporting News has Curry going to the New England Patriots with the final pick of the first round (No. 32 overall).

McShay isn't quite as optimistic - he reiterated during Friday's conference call that his mock drafts are where he thinks players will land, not where he thinks they should - but he certainly believes in Curry's pro potential.

"I love Vinny Curry," McShay said. "Team captain, all he had to overcome at home, his mom dies of cancer at the age of 50, he battles back from that, he doesn't have a whole lot financially and he's still bringing people to practice and donating his time to people.

"All the little things he's gone through and how important football is to him, I don't see any way he doesn't succeed at the next level. Maybe he's a third-round talent, but I'd feel great about drafting Vinny Curry in the second round."

Curry finished his senior season with 22 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks, numbers that ranked third and sixth nationally.  

He finished tied for second amongst Football Bowl Subdivision players in forced fumbles with seven.

The NFL Draft is April 26-28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Round 1 has a day to itself and begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. Rounds 2-3 will be the next day and the seven-round draft will conclude on Saturday, April 28.

Marshall has had 35 players drafted into the NFL, with the most recent being last season when tight end Lee Smith was taken by the Patriots in the fifth round.

The Herd boasts three first-round draft picks: Randy Moss (21st overall in 1998, Minnesota Vikings), Chad Pennington (18th in 2000, New York Jets) and Byron Leftwich (seventh in 2003, Jacksonville Jaguars).

If McShay's prediction comes to fruition Curry will be the highest Herd pick since wide receiver Darius Watts, who was taken in the second round (No. 54 overall) by the Denver Broncos in 2004.

Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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