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Scouting Jets defensive end Vinny Curry

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at each of the Jets’ offseason acquisitions, concluding today with edge defender Vinny Curry.

The 32-year old is listed at 6’3” and 266 pounds and was a second round pick out of Marshall in 2012. He’s spent most of his nine-year career with the Eagles, during which time he has registered 32.5 sacks.

Background

Curry was a decorated standout performer in high school and eventually committed to Marshall, where he made his debut as a reserve in 2008. He ended the season with nine tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

In his second season with the Thundering Herd, Curry moved into a full-time role, registering 59 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks to earn an all-Conference USA honorable mention.

In his junior year, he broke out with a career-high 94 tackles and 12 sacks and while his production was down slightly in his senior year he was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year as he ended up third in the nation with 22 tackles for loss and second in the nation with seven forced fumbles. He ended up with 11 sacks.

Curry was regarded as a possible late first rounder but his stock may have been affected by an unimpressive combine workout. However, he improved on most of his numbers at his pro day and the Eagles selected him in the second round.

Curry didn’t play much as a rookie, but showed some flashes in his second season with four sacks in 14 games. He then posted a career-high nine sacks and four forced fumbles in 2014. However, a scheme change in 2015 didn’t seem to suit him and he only had six sacks over the next two seasons. He did, however, sign a big money extension in 2016.

Having never started a game entering his sixth season, Curry would start every game in 2017 and, although he only had three sacks, he was among the league leaders in quarterback hits and played well against the run in helping the Eagles to win the Super Bowl.

Curry was a cap casualty at the end of that season and signed a three-year deal with the Bucs, for whom he started seven games and recorded two sacks. However, he was released and ended up back in Philadelphia over the last two years.

In 2019, Curry bounced back and recorded five sacks, the second-highest total of his career. He made three starts and recorded three sacks in 11 games last season.

The Jets signed Curry to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.3 million during free agency.

Now let’s take a look at what Curry brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Curry has bulked up a lot since he was in college. He was only listed at 241 in his junior year but has been listed at as much as 279 in his NFL career. He’s currently listed at 266 and lacks ideal length.

During his combine workout, Curry was hampered by an injured wrist which prevented him from doing a bench press and may have affected his other numbers. His explosiveness numbers were poor and he only ran a 4.98 in the 40-yard dash, but his three-cone drill - often viewed as the key metric for edge rushers - was an elite 6.9.

At his pro day, Curry alleviated some of these concerns by running sub-4.7, improving his vertical from 32” to 35” and putting up a solid 28 bench press reps. He is, of course, into his thirties now though, so it’s possible he may have lost half a step.

Usage

Curry has primarily lined up outside the tackle, especially in recent seasons. He used to start on the weakside with the Eagles but has lined up more on the left these past few years. Early in his career, he was more of a situational rusher and didn’t play on running downs very often.

He has at times played standing up, off the line or inside but not very often. He is adept at interior rushing though, so you can run some pass rush packages with him either lined up inside or lined up outside but stunting to the inside.

Motor

Curry’s former defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, said he was a competitor who gets most of his sacks and pressure through hard work and battling to keep working and making counter moves.

On this play, he mistimes his get-off and stumbles to the turf but he keeps working and manages to get to the quarterback:

One thing Curry hasn’t done much over the course of his career is prove he can handle a starter’s workload. He’s never played 600 snaps in a season and didn’t start at all until his sixth year.

Pass rush

Although he often gets home with good effort, Curry does have a good set of pass rushing tools. He shows a quick get-off here as he is too fast out of the blocks for a guard to stay in front of him.

Curry can get pressure around the edge too, as he blows past Laremy Tunsil here for this strip sack.

If an offensive lineman tries to cheat upfield to try to beat him to a spot, Curry can punish them with inside moves.

Curry is also an extremely effective bull rusher and capable of displaying speed-to-power off the edge.

Run defense

While he barely had to play against the run in his first five seasons, Curry did an excellent job in his only season as a full-time starter. He holds up pretty well at the point of attack, flows downhill to good effect and stays at home with good discipline on the backside. He also gives a good effort in pursuit.

However, there are times when might seek to shoot a gap and a blocker can use his momentum against him to take him out of a play.

Curry displays his ability to burst into the backfield to bottle up this fourth down stop at the goal line.

On this play, Curry displays some of the physicality he brings to the running game by taking out the full back to blow up a run.

Technique

Curry has a good pass rushing approach and an ability to go to a secondary move when his initial rush is repelled. He uses his hands well to swipe away at the offensive lineman’s arms and generate separation and his hand placement is also good, as displayed in the precision of this long arm move.

He has perfected the dip and rip coming off the edge, and even uses that move twice on this particular play.

Tackling

Curry was a productive tackler in college, but hasn’t been that at the NFL level due to how he’s been used. Even in the one year when he was in a full time role, he only had 42 tackles and this was the only time he’s been over 30.

He has good closing speed and a good ability to finish in space and level some big hits. However, he will miss tackles at times.

As noted, he has a good knack for stripping the ball away, with seven forced fumbles in one season at the college level and four in 2014 with the Eagles.

Coverage

Curry has hardly ever been asked to drop into coverage during his NFL career and on the rare occasions where he has, he’s looked limited and not particularly comfortable.

He has just two passes defensed in his career and none since 2013. One came as he batted the ball down in the pocket after getting to the quarterback on an interior rush.

Instincts/Intelligence

As a situational rusher for most of his career, Curry has primarily been tasked with pinning his ears back and getting after the quarterback. However, when required to stay home and react, he does a decent job.

He can be susceptible to being fooled on misdirection plays such as option keepers, as was the case on this play.

During his career, Curry has had three penalties for lining up in the neutral zone and seven more for defensive offsides.

Special teams

Curry hasn’t played much on special teams, where he’s just rushed kicks and the occasional punt.

In the 2019 wild card game against Seattle, he broke through the line to block this field goal attempt.

Attitude/Demeanor

Curry is the oldest player on the current Jets’ roster and the only one who will be playing in his 10th season, so he’ll be expected to bring some leadership to the team. It’s probably just as well then, that he recently completed a masters degree in leadership studies.

He has character and a good work ethic, although he refused to take a pay cut before being released in 2018 and admitted he had almost quit the game last year following the tragic death of his half-brother due to Covid-19.

On the field, Curry has had five personal fouls during his career, including two for roughing the passer and two for unnecessary roughness. He was fined once.

Injuries

Curry has been pretty durable throughout his career, although he missed five games last year. One was due to being on Covid-19 reserve, but the other four were due to a hamstring injury.

Otherwise, he’s only missed four games since 2013, all of them due to a recurring ankle injury in his one year in Tampa.

As previously noted, he was hampered by a wrist injury during the pre-draft process back in 2012.

Scheme Fit

Curry should be a perfect fit for the wide-nine system that Robert Saleh likes to employ. Obviously, the Eagles are one of the teams that has employed such fronts to good success.

Having played more on the left last year, he can be used in a lot of packages with Carl Lawson, who typically lines up on the right. However, he may need to share time with players like John Franklin-Myers and Kyle Phillips in that role.

Curry was a teammate of running back Josh Adams while with the Eagles.

Conclusions

While Curry is a bit of a stop-gap, he provides a further boost to the Jets in an area where they were particularly weak. Signing Lawson to generate pressure off the edge was a key move, but adding a player like Curry who can come off the other edge too could help take the pass rush to the next level.

In the long run, Curry can set a good example for some of the young pass rushers on this roster and help build a positive culture and mindset on defense, but hopefully he still has enough left in the tank to make an immediate impact in his own right.