Vinny Curry is a Philadelphian.
Virtually a native son, Curry grew up in Neptune, New Jersey, just a little over an hour outside of Philadelphia. And yes, Curry grew up an Eagles fan.
The New Jersey native attended Marshall University, after not receiving many division-1 scholarships. He churned out a stellar college career in which he was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year following his senior season. He finished his college career with 26.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.
The Philadelphia Eagles plucked Curry in the second round of the 2012 with the 59th overall pick. This was a dream come true for the local kid being drafted by his local team.
So what could have gone wrong?
The Eagles, looking for a sustainable pass rush, appeared ecstatic that Curry fell to them. The Eagles brain trust repeatedly stating that they would take “the best player available.”
Things could not have gone better. Except, Curry could not get on the field.
During his rookie season, starting defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin blocked him. The Marshall alumnus was low man on the totem pole.
Once Babin was released, Curry gained his opportunity, playing in six games, but unfortunately registering only nine tackles and zero sacks.
This past offseason, the Eagles changed defensive philosophies. The move to a 3-4 defense put emphasis on defensive lineman to be bigger up front and strong against the run.
Stopping the run was not Curry’s strong suit. However, in an effort to make him more valuable, he bulked up to 279 pounds. Although still on the lighter side for 3-4 defensive lineman, Curry had a strong preseason and proved he was ready to play.
Strangely though, Curry was then inactive for the first two games of his sophomore campaign. The questions swirled: why was Curry not seeing the field? What had Vinny Curry done wrong? Was he another Eagles 2nd round draft bust?
Following the first two games of the season, Kevin Connor, Curry’s agent, spoke with Tim McManus of Birds 24/7 and said that, “Vinny’s main objective is to play and play at a high level. The question becomes, can that happen in Philly or do we need to facilitate an opportunity outside of Philly if it makes sense for all parties.”
After that point, however, Curry finally garnered some quality playing time. The defensive lineman was active for the remaining 15 games of the season, including the Eagles lone playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. He would end up playing, on average, thirty percent of the defensive snaps per game. In limited action, Curry led the Eagles defensive lineman in sacks, with four.
Now in the off-season, it’s been reported often that the Eagles plan to prioritize obtaining a pass rusher, as the team recorded only 37 sacks during the season.
There are a number of defensive ends available in free agency from Carolina’s Greg Hardy to Minnesota’s Jared Allen. However Curry was a second round pick. Trading him now would mean receiving pennies on a dollar. That scenario doesn’t make sense.
So what do the Eagles do? Do the Eagles play him? Use him as a situational pass rusher?
The biggest fear is allowing Vinny Curry to leave Philadelphia and become a star elsewhere like many former undersized defensive ends have done before (see: Burgess, Derrick; Clemons, Chris).
It may not be Vinny Curry who is the problem here. The Eagles chose the lineman as a luxury pick because he was the “best player on the board.” At that point in time, the Birds could have taken a player where the team had a bigger area of need.
Right now, the Eagles and Curry find themselves in a complicated situations. Do the Eagles play Curry and play the risk and reward game? Do the Eagles sit him and let him rot away until his contract ends? Or, do the Eagles trade him and recoup any potential value?
There is little doubt that he has the talent and skill set to be a productive NFL player. There is no question that Vinny Curry has the drive to succeed, as witnessed by his offseason preparations. But right now, Curry’s talent is being wasted in a defense that does not fit his skillset. And as the old saying goes, “the worst thing in life is wasted talent.”
Hal Greenblatt covers the Eagles for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter: @HMGreenblatt