NFC North: Aaron Curry

The New York Giants' release of linebacker Aaron Curry prompts our now-annual reminder of the murky top of the 2009 draft.

As longtime readers might recall, we had a vigorous and largely inconclusive debate about whom the Detroit Lions should select with the No. 1 overall pick. There was a loud cross-section of fans who wanted Curry. Some hoped the Lions would fortify their offensive line with Baylor left tackle Jason Smith. And while quarterback is always a popular choice, not everyone was sold on whether Georgia's Matthew Stafford was worthy of that draft positioning.

Stafford hasn't convinced everyone yet, at least based on the continuing debate about his mechanics. But the Giants were Curry's third team in five years, and you wonder if there will be a sixth.

Smith, meanwhile, was traded last season by the St. Louis Rams to the New York Jets. He spent part of training camp this summer with the New Orleans Saints before he was released. He has since re-signed with the Jets, officially his fourth team change in five years.

The 2009 draft was an especially brutal exercise for many teams. But I'm not sure any of us anticipated that two of the three players the Lions were considering at No. 1 overall would be clinging to their NFL lives just five years later.
Stafford
Stafford
Was it just three years ago when we were all arguing about who the Detroit Lions should select with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft? The Lions narrowed their options to Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

Curry was the choice of Lions fans wary of highly-drafted quarterbacks and desperately hoping for an improved defense.

Traditionalists wanted to draft Smith to replace what seemed to be an aging Jeff Backus.

The Lions, as it turned out, were sold on Stafford for months before the draft and negotiated with Smith and Curry only to aid their leverage with Stafford's agent.

I was reminded of those times this week when the St. Louis Rams, who drafted Smith No. 2 overall, demoted him to second-team right tackle. Curry, drafted No. 4 by the Seattle Seahawks, moved to the Oakland Raiders last season and is sidelined for the moment by a knee injury he reportedly sought stem-cell treatment for.

Stafford, I'm told, threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns last season.

To be clear, there weren't many people arguing from a public perspective that Stafford was the slam-dunk choice, myself included. It's hard to argue with it now.

Detroit: What if it isn't Suh?

April, 22, 2010
4/22/10
11:30
AM ET
In these final hours before the NFL draft opens, you would have to look pretty hard to find a media analyst who is convinced the Detroit Lions won't take Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the No. 2 overall pick. But what if they don't? What if the Lions, led by one of the more mysterious general managers in the league, pull a surprise and look elsewhere?

(That means you, Martin Mayhew.)

What would that mean for the Lions? Who would they pick? Where would that leave the rest of the draft? (Why am I asking so many questions?) Let's consider some possibilities while we await the opening bell:

  • As we discussed a few weeks ago, many media draft analysts actually favor Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy as a pure prospect. Suh is considered the so-called "safer" choice because of his heavy college production. Still, we've got nothing other than conventional wisdom and peer pressure telling us the Lions rank Suh over McCoy. For all we know, it could be McCoy.
  • We could be wrong in assuming the Lions aren't factoring in the finances of paying No. 2 money to a defensive tackle. As we noted earlier this offseason, it is one of the game's lowest-paid positions. Let's not totally rule out the possibility that the Lions would look at a left tackle for that reason, even though coach Jim Schwartz has said he is happy with current starter Jeff Backus. Two of the draft's top left tackles visited the Lions' complex: Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Oklahoma's Trent Williams. No one should be stunned if either were the pick.
  • If the Lions went with a left tackle instead of Suh or McCoy, it's very possible the rookie would open the season as a reserve. Backus could well remain at left tackle, with newcomer Rob Sims the likely starter at left guard. The Lions are one year removed from giving right guard Stephen Peterman a five-year contract extension. And it seems that right tackle Gosder Cherilus will get one more year to establish himself.
  • Without Suh or McCoy, the likeliest starting defensive tackle duo would be Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill. Unless the Lions trade for Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, another possible impediment to drafting Suh.
  • If the Lions draft McCoy, you would figure Tampa Bay will snatch Suh at No. 3. The rest of the draft would be unaffected.
  • If the choice is Okung or Williams, the draft could get turned on its heels. Either Suh or McCoy could fall as far as Cleveland at No. 7, but probably no further.
  • Finally, we shouldn't assume the Lions will react to popular sentiment, including that of their own fans. Don't forget that last year, Lions fans were urging them to take linebacker Aaron Curry over quarterback Matthew Stafford.
I'm not trying to shake up any Detroit fans who are lighting by cyberspace in hopes that Suh becomes a Lion this evening. But we should all be realistic and accept that anyone who thinks they absolutely, positively know what's going to happen is either lying, delusional or an NFC North blogger for ESPN.com.

Packers' Pickett won't play

December, 27, 2009
12/27/09
11:48
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The fog has lifted here at Lambeau Field -- in more than one way for some, I’m sure. Imagine the award-winning photograph in our 10:55 a.m. post, only with sun instead of fog.

One bit of pregame news for you: Packers nose tackle Ryan Pickett won’t play because of a hamstring injury. Rookie B.J. Raji will start in his place.

Seattle, meanwhile, will play without linebacker Aaron Curry (shoulder) and receiver Nate Burleson (ankle). Both absences were expected.

Seahawks running back Julius Jones is active. He was listed as questionable with a rib injury.

Dirty Laundry: Cutler's crackback

September, 30, 2009
9/30/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


It didn’t take long for Angry Tom, a noted Bears fan, to point out the shaky crackback block assessed to quarterback Jay Cutler in the first quarter of Chicago’s 25-19 victory in Seattle. Nick of Chicago was more polite, however, so he gets the floor:
I would like to see this for this week's Dirty Laundry feature. Jay Cutler was whistled for an illegal crackback in Seattle. However, in the replay he clearly hit the defender in the waist. I know Favre was the subject of the same call in the preseason, but what is the true definition of a crackback? Doesn't he have to go for the knees?

For those who missed it, the Bears ran a reverse to receiver Devin Hester, who turned the corner on the left side of the Bears’ line and made it 19 yards downfield. The play was nullified when officials called Cutler for an illegal crackback block on Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry. (The official gamebook referred to it as a “chop block,” which is technically different. But we’ll go with “crackback’ because that’s what referee Don Carey announced.)

When you watch the replay, you see Cutler scanning the left side of the line for defenders and then swiveling inside when he spotted Curry. Cutler bends as if he is going to go low on Curry but ultimately makes contact with his upper thigh/waist area.

Alex, the NFL rule defines a crackback block as below the waist -- not the knees. We’ll get to that issue in a second. First, here’s the full wording of the rule:
At the snap, an offensive player who is aligned in a position more than two yards laterally outside an offensive tackle, or a player who is in a backfield position at the snap and then moves to a position more than two yards laterally outside a tackle, may not clip an opponent anywhere, nor may he contact an opponent below the waist if the blocker is moving toward the position where the ball was snapped from, and the contact occurs within an area five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage.

I think we can agree that the secondary conditions were in place for a crackback call. The primary question, however, is whether Cutler hit Curry below the waist. After watching it a bunch of times, I think Cutler was too close to Curry’s waist to make the call -- especially when you consider that Curry bent to take on Cutler’s block. Cutler certainly seemed to apply a waist-high block, if not a block that made first contact at the waist or above.

As with many of the calls we’ll examine this year, there is some gray area and room for debate. But the purpose of the crackback rule is to prevent offensive players from diving at the feet or knees of defensive players. It’s an injury hazard, among many other things. Cutler didn’t come close to doing that.

On to our Challenge Tracker, where the only change this week was Bears coach Lovie Smith’s reversal of a red zone fumble by Matt Forte to set up the Bears’ first touchdown.
NFC North Challenge Tracker
Team Coach Challenge Overturned Success rate
Chicago Lovie Smith 3 1 33.3
Detroit Jim Schwartz 2 0 --
Green Bay Mike McCarthy 1 0 --
Minnesota Brad Childress 2 1 50.0
Source: ESPN Stats & Information
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Matthew Stafford faced as many questions, doubts and criticisms of any No. 1 draft pick in recent memory.

  • His accuracy was suspect.
  • His college team didn't win big.
  • He was the best of a weak quarterback class -- one that didn't include Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
  • He wouldn't fare well on a rebuilding team with a weak offensive line.

I know for a fact there were some NFL teams who didn't consider Stafford the best quarterback in the draft, let alone worthy of the top overall pick. But it's clear now that Detroit wasn't one of them. The Lions jumped head-first onto the Stafford bandwagon with a contract so audacious it could only mean they are legitimately enamored with him.

  NFL Draft Vignette: Matthew Stafford
  NFL.com Video
  An inside look at quarterback Matthew Stafford.

If the Lions shared any of the preceding doubts -- if they had any lingering questions about Stafford's ability to develop into an elite quarterback -- it's hard to believe they would have allowed the negotiations to reach the point they did. In terms of guaranteed money, the Lions gave Stafford almost a 30 percent raise over last year's No. 1 pick, Miami offensive tackle Jake Long. Stafford's $41.7 million in guarantees was 17 percent more than Atlanta gave quarterback Matt Ryan last year as the No. 3 overall pick.

You could say the Lions had no choice but to pay market price if they wanted to draft a quarterback at No. 1 in 2009, but they had a much cheaper and possibly safer alternative; Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry said this week he would sign for less than what Long received. Assuming he was speaking about guaranteed money, Curry could have saved the Lions almost $12 million on a five-year deal and perhaps $10 million with a six-year deal.

Even in the NFL's fantasy-land economic system, an eight-figure difference is a big deal. But the Lions never seriously considered Curry's offer and instead plowed ahead with Stafford.

Earlier this offseason, Lions coach Jim Schwartz insisted the Lions would pursue all options to find their next quarterback. He added: "I've been on the record saying quarterback is the most important position on the team. But there's a lot of different ways to get that quarterback."

So if Schwartz considered Stafford a flawed quarterback, I have a hard time believing he would have signed off on this decision. Every coach wants a blue chip quarterback to groom, but ultimately Schwartz knows its not in his best long-term interest to take on a project that might backfire and return him to square one.

Schwartz must feel confident his coaching staff can even out the rough patches in Stafford's game and develop him into a long-term starter. I'd be surprised if the Lions' intent was to do anything other than make Stafford a backup for 2009 and possibly 2010.

More than anything, however, Schwartz couldn't resist the powerful tug to begin building his program around a specific quarterback.

It's a sentiment Baltimore coach John Harbaugh expressed earlier this year at the NFL owners' meeting when I asked him about drafting quarterback Joe Flacco in 2008.

Harbaugh: "The thing that's interesting to me is that when you have the quarterback in place, it really becomes clear and evident what else you need. If your quarterback is not in place, it's just kind of murky. What kind of receivers do you need? What kind of running backs? How are you going to build your offense? It's all kind of muddled. When you get the quarterback, it just seems that it's easier to define. This guy is going to be a good fit for what we're trying to do in the offense."

Ignore the specific issues surrounding Stafford. In the big picture, the Lions have laid down the first and most important building block of their new regime. With Friday's agreement, Detroit has given itself a focal point to construct around. To do it, they paid sure-thing money for what some observers consider a could-miss player. Time will tell who was right.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Many of you are wondering whether there is a hard deadline for Detroit and quarterback Matthew Stafford to agree on a contract before the Lions move on to Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

From what I understand about the state of negotiations, and in examining several media reports, the issue of a deadline is getting close to being moot. There has been enough progress on issues, and the Lions have enough of a commitment to drafting Stafford, that it wouldn't make sense to break off talks and shift gears at this point.

A contract could be completed Friday night, Saturday morning or even later. Yes, it's not out of the question that the Lions could draft Stafford even if they haven't completed negotiations. Thomas George of NFL.com reports the Lions have already made that decision, and I think it makes sense. Detroit has come this far with Stafford, and it's clear he is their target. There's no reason to allow an artificial deadline to force a dramatic organizational shift.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

NEW YORK -- The Beast had a long visit with former Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry today in Central Park. He's an extremely engaging guy who seems as excited about giving to the community as he is about collecting huge paychecks. He's even told the Lions he'd give them a discount in exchange for the "prestige" of being the top pick in the draft.

"I heard some bad stuff about the city," said Curry, "but it's not that bad at all. I really enjoyed it there. And to play between Ernie Sims and Julian Peterson would be amazing."

Curry and Baylor's Jason Smith have become close through this whole process. They're still talking about Wake Forest blowing out Baylor early in the '08 season.

"Jason says they would've beat us 65-0 if we played later in the season," joked Curry.

According to Curry, the two players only collided once during the game -- on a blitz.

"He got me," Curry said of Smith.

Curry said he doesn't think Detroit "can go wrong" with him or Matthew Stafford. And that's the type of attitude that has already endeared Curry to Lions fans. A recent newspaper poll in Detroit indicated that fans were leaning toward Curry. But the Beast still thinks Stafford ends up in Motown.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

How did Minnesota miss its pick in the first round of the 2003 draft? For some reason, former Vikings owner Red McCombs re-visited that issue Friday with Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

As you might recall, the Vikings believed they had made a deal with Baltimore to move from No. 7 to No. 9, but the trade was never fully reported to the NFL before time expired. The Vikings ended up selecting defensive tackle Kevin Williams with the No. 9 pick after Baltimore and Jacksonville leapfrogged them in positioning.

McCombs told Alonzo that the mistake occurred "because Mike [Tice] and the guys didn't have their damn signals straight. That was like junior high school handling of a situation. We didn't go up and get our draft pick in. That showed lack of organization."

The story that has always been told is that then-Vikings president Gary Woods, a McCombs associate from San Antonio, ordered the Vikings to trade down moments before the snafu occurred. In an e-mail to Alonzo, Tice said: "Being told MINUTES before the pick was to be made... 'TRADE THE PICK'... thanks."

McCombs, however, disputed that version and said: "That never happened."

Check out the story for Tice's full response to McCombs' finger-pointing.

I look at this exchange as an unfortunate addition to some of the bizarre chapters McCombs wrote at the end of his tenure with the team. Tice technically had veto power over draft decisions, but to blame him and his coaching staff alone for the mistake is a stretch.

Missing the pick reflected franchise-wide disorganization and confusion, starting at the very top. There was undoubtedly an error made, but to rub anyone's nose in it six years later seems totally unnecessary. I think the statute of limitations would have passed by now.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune notes that the Vikings brought Florida receiver Percy Harvin to their facility for a meeting earlier this month. Coach Brad Childress reportedly visited with Harvin again this week.
  • Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports spends some time with Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, who seems the likely choice of Detroit with the draft's No. 1 overall pick. Speaking about Detroit fans who want the team to draft Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, Stafford said: "Obviously, you want the fans to be on your side. I think you have to be yourself and play and get them on your side. I want them to know that I'm a down-to-earth guy, and I'll do what it takes, no matter what that is. If that's handing the rock off to Kevin Smith 30 times a game and letting the defense [control the game], then I'll do that. If it's chuck it around a little bit, I'll do that, too. I'm one of those guys that just wants to win, I don't care how. It doesn't have to be pretty."
  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press on the seemingly inevitable pairing: "The Lions want Matthew Stafford. Stafford wants the Lions. This makes me question both sides' judgment -- but, hey, what do I know?"
  • Curry told Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com: "In my heart, I think [the Lions] are going to get it done with Stafford. I know they have faith in both of us to become great players. They can't go wrong. They're really making their decision on a need basis. Quarterback for them is a more important need. I understand that."
  • Ohio State cornerback Michael Jenkins reminds people of former Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Chris Jenkins of the Associated Press believes Packers general manager Ted Thompson will at least be tempted to stray from his mantra of taking the best-available player in order to address some of his defensive needs.
  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel wouldn't blame Thompson for trading down from the No. 9 pick given the salaries due players chosen high in the draft.
  • Chicago is hoping to replicate its second-round success last year with tailback Matt Forte, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Georgia receiver Mohamed Massaquoi could fit the Bears' receiving corps well, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Tom of East Lansing, Mich., watched Wednesday's video about the public impact of Detroit drafting quarterback Matthew Stafford. (The NFL Live panel suggested that Stafford, as a quarterback, would motivate fans and maximize marketing and ticket sales in the Detroit area.)

 Stafford

Let's just say that Tom, and many other Lions fans we've heard from this week, disputes that premise.

On the surface, it's a reasonable argument. Usually, nothing generates fan excitement more than the arrival of a young quarterback. But in this case, there is circumstantial evidence that the Lions' fan base is significantly split about Stafford -- who will be the Lions' top choice as long as he agrees this week to a contract. Tom writes, in part:

Detroit has the best fans in America (proven by how we stick around no matter what) and yet the Lions need to make a pick that motivates us? Sells tickets?! Yeah, great way to win, building a franchise based on ticket sales and jersey orders. However, what is really funny is that THE FANS DON'T WANT STAFFORD!! There was a stinking chant for Aaron Curry at the logo unveiling. Does that not mean anything?! Now, they shouldn't draft based on what the fans want. BUT, if you are going to, AT LEAST MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE DRAFTING THE PLAYER THAT THE FANS ACTUALLY WANT!!!

There is no easy way to scientifically gauge a true representative sample of Lions fans. (Sorry, the Black and Blue blog budget doesn't allow for hiring Gallup pollsters.) Tom's note is similar to many I've received, although those sentiments could simply be a vocal minority.

But it's a fact that hundreds of fans chanted for the Lions to draft Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry earlier this week. And several readers have pointed out this poll on the Lions' Web site, where 26,000 people voted for their choice as the No. 1 overall pick. (Or, at least, 26,000 votes were registered.) Curry led the voting with 37 percent, followed by Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith at 25 percent. Stafford was third with 23 percent of the votes.

Again, there's nothing scientific about an open online poll. But if these results actually do represent a cross-section of Lions fans, it appears the team won't get the kind of immediate jolt of unfettered enthusiasm you could usually expect by drafting a quarterback No. 1 overall.

Lions officials have said repeatedly that their choice wouldn't be guided by public opinion. But in every instance, the base of the conversation was that Stafford would be the fan's choice. I don't think the Lions are leaning toward Stafford because they think fans will embrace him, but who would have thought drafting a quarterback would prove an unpopular decision?

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

We here at the ESPN Blog Network decided to have some fun and conduct our own mock draft. Its intrinsic value rates somewhere below the efforts of actual experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, but it was fun nonetheless.

I'll expand my explanations for the NFC North picks below, including one highly controversial choice for which I'm certain to absorb an unmerciful flogging. Onward...

No. 1 overall
Detroit Lions: Quarterback Matthew Stafford
Why: I think it's pretty clear the Lions have targeted Stafford over Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Otherwise, Curry probably would be signed by now. Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith is also a candidate, but in the end it seems the Lions want to open their new era with a blue-chip building block at the game's most important position.

No. 9 overall
Green Bay Packers: Andre Smith
Why: AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky made this choice a bit easier by taking Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji off the board one pick earlier. Some of the defensive names previously connected to the Packers were still available, including Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin and LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson. But in this scenario I think Packers general manager Ted Thompson would select the best player available. It just so happens Green Bay has a need at the position as well.

No. 20 overall
Lions:
Running back Knowshon Moreno
Why: Ah, yes. I will accept virtual pummeling via the mailbag. I know the Lions have more pressing needs than at running back. And I'm well aware they have a good young tailback in Kevin Smith and signed veteran Maurice Morris in free agency. I guess I'm just taking coach Jim Schwartz at his word that the Lions won't allow need to trump talent in this draft. When I looked at the players left on the board at this spot, I thought Moreno was clearly the best value. The Lions aren't necessarily targeting Moreno, but I think they will seek out the best value -- regardless of position -- at every spot in this draft.

No. 22 overall
Minnesota Vikings:
Offensive tackle Eben Britton
Why: I went with the best offensive tackle available even with all of the draft's second-tier receivers still available (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Percy Harvin, Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks among them). This might be a few spots too high to take Britton, but in the end I'm not totally convinced the Vikings are targeting a first-round receiver. And that was before news surfaced that they worked out West Virginia quarterback/receiver Pat White.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

It was interesting to note this FoxSports.com story from Alex Marvez, which reports that Minnesota officials conducted a private workout Tuesday with West Virginia quarterback Pat White.

White has gained some draft traction as a possible "Wildcat" quarterback/running back given his athleticism and a 6-foot frame that might not make him an ideal full-time passer. But the Vikings have never displayed a remote interest in the Wildcat formation, and in fact, coach Brad Childress appeared disinterested in the trend as it developed last year. Childress runs a traditional power offense with little to no gimmicks.

According to the report, the Vikings consider White a quarterback/receiver prospect. It's also possible they envision him as a kickoff and punt returner. White could be a less expensive version of Florida receiver Percy Harvin, a potential first-round target for the Vikings.

A workout four days before the draft typically means a team has either serious questions or serious interest in a player and needs another look before finalizing its board ranking. White can certainly make an impact on an NFL offense, but the Vikings would have to make some alterations to their scheme in order to maximize his skills.

Continuing around the NFC North:

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I suppose there are several ways to read into the headline quote from Detroit's pre-draft news conference Tuesday afternoon. I choose none of the above.

 Curry
 Stafford
 Smith

To review: General manager Martin Mayhew told reporters there is a "very good" chance the Lions will have their No. 1 pick signed before the start of Saturday's NFL draft. You'd probably be remiss in considering the statement a reflection on how well negotiations are going. In reality, I don't think Mayhew could have said anything else if he wants each player's agent to believe he is serious about having a contract done -- with someone -- by Saturday.

Based on all indications, the Lions are trying to sign Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. Their primary leverage in those talks is insisting they will move on to Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry, or possibly Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith, if they can't agree to terms with Stafford before Saturday afternoon. That insistence places a time demand on Stafford to accept Detroit's best offer, which theoretically would be higher than what he would get if the Lions passed and another team drafted him at a lower spot.

If Mayhew were less optimistic with his public statements, Stafford might assume the Lions would push beyond their self-imposed deadline and draft him without agreeing to a contract. If that seems like a possibility, Stafford and his agent could just sit tight and wait for the Lions to break and draft him anyway. Once that happens, Stafford would be locked into the No. 1 financial slot in the draft.

So by saying there is a "very good" chance they'll have a contract by Saturday, Mayhew is really saying there is a "very good" chance he'll have a deal -- with somebody. If it's not with Stafford, it will be with Curry or Smith.

The Lions seem to want Stafford. The critical moment, that undetermined time when they must reach an agreement or move on, will come soon enough. For now, we're still in gamesmanship mode.

For those interested in some of Mayhew's other comments, here is a partial transcript of the news conference, courtesy Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.

Aaron Curry talks Lions

April, 21, 2009
4/21/09
9:45
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Check out the video below of the People's Choice during an appearance Monday on ESPN's "Rome is Burning."

Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry addressed whether Detroit will draft him No. 1 overall -- "I think there is a possibility," he said -- and also endorsed the possibility of playing middle linebacker for the Lions.

"There would be no escaping me," he said.

Curry acknowledged his agents visited Detroit's practice facility last weekend but said he has no idea whether the Lions will draft him:

"I've talked to [general manager Martin] Mayhew about everything but that draft pick. He's never given me an indication of what they're going to do."

Curry also discussed growing up in Fayetteville, N.C., his decision to bypass the draft after his junior season and a special guest he will take to the draft on Saturday.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

There was plenty of clamoring for Chicago to pursue free agent receiver Torry Holt in the days following its acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler. New left tackle Orlando Pace, among others, reportedly reached out to Holt in hopes of luring his former teammate to the Bears.

But as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times notes, Chicago's front office simply never showed any interest in Holt. He signed Monday with Jacksonville after also considering Tennessee.

Holt's three-year, $20 million deal is a pretty penny for a 32-year-old receiver, and a reasonable person could argue against paying him that sum. Nevertheless, the decision still leaves the Bears with an undermanned receiving corps for their new quarterback and limited prospects for immediate impact in the draft.

Continuing around the NFC North on a Tuesday morning:

  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago reviews the draft track record of Bears general manager Jerry Angelo here and here.
  • Terry Foster of the Detroit News believes the Lions should listen to their fans and draft Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Foster: "Curry is change because he represents what president Tom Lewand says the new logo represents: Tough, mean, strong and angry. Curry has claws and will put this team on his back."
  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press offers the opposite take: "The easiest draft decision Saturday would be bowing to fan impulsiveness. Give them what they demand with the first overall selection -- anybody who doesn't play quarterback. But it would defeat the institutional change the Lions are seeking. If they're confident that Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford is their man, they should stand up to public skepticism."
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines why Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson has traded down 13 times on draft day in his Packers career. The short version: Thompson trades down when he determines there are a glut of players of similar value available at his pick.
  • Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette addresses whether there is a point of diminishing returns to trading back for extra draft picks.
  • Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune examines whether Minnesota will address its need at right tackle in the first round of the draft. Arizona's Eben Britton should be available at No. 22 overall.
  • Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press predicts the Vikings will select a cornerback with one of their top two picks.

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