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Curry dashes to a solid position

February 24, 2009|Sam Farmer

Who's No. 1?

There's a good chance the Detroit Lions won't spend the first overall pick on a quarterback -- even though it's a position of need -- but on a player who can make an immediate impact on the league's worst defense two years running.

That player could be Aaron Curry, a 6-foot-2, 254-pound outside linebacker from Wake Forest, who won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker.

Further bolstering his stock, Curry ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, which was the best time for anyone in his position group.

"Aaron Curry might be the safest pick in the draft," said Mike Mayock, scouting expert for the NFL Network. "He's done it over time. He's a fifth-year senior. He's clean off the field; you're going to hand him $30 million or $40 million and he's going to be like [Atlanta quarterback] Matt Ryan. He's going to put it in the bank and he's going to go to work.

"He can play in the 3-4 scheme or the 4-3. He does everything well, and he's extremely coachable. You can insert him Day 1, and he's a starter, your defense is better, and you don't have to worry about him getting in trouble."

Ouch, that hurts!

There are no contact drills at the combine, but some players still come away limping.

Monday, it was two of the defensive stars.

USC linebacker Rey Maualuga and Texas linebacker/defensive end Brian Orakpo suffered tweaked hamstrings, which, although not thought to be serious, put a serious damper on their day.

Orakpo's mishap came during a drill. Maualuga's happened when he was running the 40-yard dash, and apparently was a flare-up of something that had been bothering him for a while.

"I could feel it for the past two weeks," Maualuga told the NFL Network. "I just wanted to come out here and compete with the very best. I wanted to show the coaches and scouts I could do everything. Now I'm just going to go to the trainer and get right, and hopefully be able to do the pro day."

USC's campus pro day is April 1, so Maualuga -- along with Ohio State's James Laurinaitis among the top inside linebackers in the draft -- has some time to rest and ready himself.

Ellison lifts status

Monday was a landmark day for USC safety Kevin Ellison, who bench-pressed 225 pounds a remarkable 32 times.

According to NFLDraftScout.com, Ellison's mark is a new decade record for either free or strong safeties. He surpassed the 31 reps of Arizona State strong safety Adam Archuleta in 2001.

Ellison wasn't the only player to set a decade bench-press record for his position. North Carolina's Brooks Foster did too, putting up the weight 27 times.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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