MOBILE, Ala.—Vinny Curry never got the attention at Marshall University that he got at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday. Curry entertained a host of questioners at midfield following practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, after Curry turned in a lights-out performance that shot Curry up draft boards across the league.
A day after leaping to prominence by darting into the backfield and forcing a fumble, the undersized pass rusher was the star of the day in the North squad's practice for Saturday's Senior Bowl game. Following the morning session, Curry was surrounded by scouts seeking personal information on the 6-4, 263-pound defensive end.
"My mother passed away in October," he said, detailing the rugged details of a difficult life growing up in New Jersey. The football world will come to know much more about Curry in the next three months leading up to the NFL draft in late April.
Curry began the day by making mammoth Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams appear as though he was on skates. Curry then continued his assault on Big Ten offensive linemen by making Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler whiff on a pass-block attempt.
One scout described Curry as having to play standing up as a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. "He doesn't get off blocks but has tremendous explosion," the scout said.
The Packers, of course, use a 3-4 defensive scheme and are in need of a pass rusher on the right side to complement Clay Matthews on the other side of the formation.
How high will Curry climb in the draft rankings? That would seem to be the big question after Wednesday's practice.
He was quick, elusive, forceful and disruptive. He looked every part of a playmaker. Curry was the best of the tweeners in a Senior Bowl that is loaded with tweeners on both teams' rosters.
SI.com draft analyst Tony Pauline offered this evaluation of Curry to packers.com: "Very athletic, very quick, natural pass rusher. Quick change of direction. Has all the attributes to make the change to outside linebacker in a 3-4."
Here are some other observations from Wednesday's practices:
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins performed as would be expected of a high-round prospect. He threw the ball effortlessly, again, and will no doubt cause scouts to wonder why Cousins doesn't play as well as he practices. If Cousins performs in the game on Saturday as he has in practice this week – the rules of the game favor quarterbacks because blitzing and press coverage are forbidden – he will almost certainly move up draft boards.
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson threw the ball much better on Wednesday than he did on Tuesday. Wilson displayed better-than-adequate short-area arm strength, though he came up short on a deep ball and his range does appear to be limited.
Nevada linebacker James-Michael Johnson has helped himself this week. He's come out of nowhere to make plays and put himself on the list of playmakers. He's been especially effective in pass-coverage but has also displayed some blitz quickness.
UConn defensive tackle Kendall Reyes, the star of Tuesday's practice, turned in another strong effort. He drove Zeitler back into the quarterback on one pass rush.
Zeitler struggled for the second consecutive day.
Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford flattened massive Iowa State offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, but Osemele recovered to stone Crawford later in the pass-rush drill, which earned Osemele an attaboy from the Redskins offensive line coach.
Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe has replaced Penn State's Devon Still, and Wolfe was true to his reputation for being a solid run-stuffer.
Virginia's Cam Johnson, 6-4, 270, is another one of the many tweeners at the Senior Bowl, and he displayed first-step quickness and up-the-field speed.
Boise State running back Doug Martin caught in stride a beautiful pass from Wilson on a wheel route down the left sideline. Martin has do-it-all skills.
Arkansas linebacker Jake Bequette, 6-5, 271, delivered violent hits on running backs Vick Ballard of Mississippi State and Terrance Ganaway of Baylor, in a spicy blitz pickup drill. North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown, 6-2, 230, did the same to Louisiana Tech running back Lennon Creer, though Creer is big and strong enough to have absorbed the blow.
Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham is a lights-out hitter in kick coverage.
Ballard has been impressive throughout the week. He's projected to be a middle-rounds pick, but a fast 40 time at the combine or at personal workouts could shoot him up boards.
Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner has shown he's a sure-handed receiver, which will help him overcome a somewhat disappointing senior season.
Arkansas' Joe Adams was the best-looking wide receiver for either team on Wednesday. He caught several passes and shows potential for being an explosive run-after-the-catch guy.
North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been one of the week's standout performers. He broke on a ball impressively on Wednesday. Will teams overlook his off-the-field trouble? He was suspended by new Florida coach Will Muschamp last spring, causing Jenkins to transfer.
Alabama's Courtney Upshaw registered the equivalent of a sack. Upshaw appears to do one thing and one thing only, but it's the kind of thing for which every team is seeking players.
Florida running back Chris Rainey, a smallish player that needs to be used more as a receiver than as a runner, caught several passes again and, on one occasion, Rainey got 10 yards behind the coverage. He has rare speed but it would appear to be of the build-to-speed variety.
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden gunned a 20-yard strike to Adams that answered any questions about Weeden's arm strength, if there were any.
Creer opened eyes with a strong burst off the ball, big-back lean and power that caused LSU defensive back Brandon Taylor some embarrassment. A day after Taylor thumped Ballard to the ground in the open field, an event Taylor celebrated, Creer flattened Taylor at the end of a run.
Senior Bowl practices have included more one-on-one contact than any of the players will experience in the NFL. Contact work is over for the week. The two teams won't wear pads for Thursday's practices.