Wake Forest coach compares Curry to Calvin Johnson
When Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was in high school, one of the many recruiters to drop in for a visit was Wake Forest defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brad Lambert.
Phenomenal kid, Lambert recalled Wednesday. And the thing about Calvin is, he didn't like be real arrogant with me being from Wake Forest. He sat down and visited with me. He was great. He's a really good person and obviously when we played against him it was a nightmare, that's for sure.
Lambert said Johnson reminds him of another well grounded but supremely talented player, his own linebacker Aaron Curry. While Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford and Baylor left tackle Jason Smith have emerged as the favorites to be the No. 1 pick of the draft, Curry is the consensus best defensive player available and would fit perhaps the Lions' most pressing area of need.
A strong-side linebacker at Wake Forest, the Lions have been evaluating the rangy Curry as a middle linebacker since last season. It's a transition Lambert said his star pupil won't have a problem with.
I've told all the guys that come through here, that transition, he'll make that transition good because of his work ethic and his study, and once he starts doing it on a daily basis he'll pick it up, Lambert said. He picks things up really quickly.
We played him outside because he was so skilled. We asked that guy to be out in space a lot more here based on our system. ... He had the length, the speed and athleticism to play out there. It was a luxury for us because a lot of times we didn't go to the nickel because we felt like he could be as effective as our nickel. So it gave us a lot more flexibility having a guy like him.
Lambert said he's been given no indication where Curry will be drafted, though he's not likely to fall far if the Lions pass. Kansas City at No. 3, Seattle at No. 4 and Cleveland at No. 5 all have gaping holes at outside linebacker.
I'm hoping he goes No. 1 just for him, Lambert said. If I were Detroit I'd take him No. 1, but that's me being around him every day for 4 1/2 years. He just elevates everybody around him, but it's hard not to take a quarterback. Generally, they don't take a linebacker No. 1.
Curry, though, is the rare breed of linebacker who'd be worth the top overall pick, Lambert said.
The thing I've looked at and said was, he had a huge impact on our whole program and sometimes I look at Detroit, I'm like, well, he can have that same impact, Lambert said. He's going to bring a lot of guys with him just because of his daily work habits. He just never had a bad day. I've said all along, if you were an average player in our program you might want to take a day off but you can't because the best player we have isn't taking a day off. He never took a day off. He only missed two practices around here in his career and they both were when he went to the Lott Trophy (ceremony) out in California.