Vinny Curry waited longer than he expected to find a home in the NFL.
Worked out perfect for him.
Curry was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 59 overall pick in the second round of the draft Friday night. The defensive end from Marshall joins the team he grew up rooting for as a kid in Neptune, N.J.
“He might be the biggest Eagles fan ever,” coach Andy Reid said. “He’s dreamed of playing here. He’s got one speed and that’s 100 miles per hour. He has a vivacious personality, quite a colorful guy and loves to play the game.”
Curry already has a chip on his shoulder because he wasn’t picked earlier in the draft. Some analysts considered him a potential first-round pick.
“I was expecting to go in the first, but things happen,” Curry said. “I have no idea (why). That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. You can’t predict the draft. Only thing I can do is get ready to suit up and prove my case.
The 6-foot-3, 266-pound Curry had 26.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in his career, including 11 sacks and 22 tackles for a loss as a senior. He could flourish in defensive line coach Jim Washburn’s wide-nine scheme.
“Coach Washburn hand-picked me and I can promise you I won’t let him down,” Curry said.
Defensive end wasn’t a position the Eagles needed to improve. They have Jason Babin, a two-time Pro Bowl pick who had 18 sacks last year, and Trent Cole, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who’s had double-digit sacks four of the last five years. Former first-round pick Brandon Graham also is on the roster as well as a few solid veterans.
“Vinny really was just the best player on the board at the time,” Reid said. “There was no way we could pass him up at that time. It really wasn’t a need or a worry about anyone we have.”
Earlier in the second round, the Eagles chose California linebacker Mychal Kendricks with the 46th overall pick. They took Arizona quarterback Nick Foles in the third round at No. 88.
The 5-foot-11, 240-pound Kendricks can bolster a linebacker corps that was the weakest link on defense. Kendricks has the versatility to play inside or outside and is considered a solid tackler with the speed to play in coverage.
“He has great athletic ability, speed, gives you an opportunity to cover tight ends,” Reid said. “We’re very excited about him.”
Kendricks started every game for the Golden Bears over the last three years. He had 105 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season when he was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.
Philadelphia already upgraded its linebackers by acquiring two-time Pro Bowl pick DeMeco Ryans in a trade with Houston. The position was a revolving door last season, especially the first month when the Eagles tried three different linebacker combinations in the first four games.
Ryans should solidify the middle and Kendricks will compete for a starting spot on the strong side.
Kendricks is the fourth linebacker the Eagles have selected in the second round in Reid’s 14 seasons as head coach. Barry Gardner (1999), Quinton Caver (2001) and Matt McCoy (2005) were the others. Only Gardner developed into a starter.
“You are getting a phenomenal pass rusher off that side and pass-coverage skills are a strong part of his game,” Reid said. “He’s a stout kid and he plays a physical game. He’s a tenacious player.”
The 6-foot-5, 243-pound Foles could compete with Mike Kafka and veteran Trent Edwards for the backup job behind Michael Vick. Foles is a strong-armed, pocket passer who threw for 4,334 yards as a senior.
Foles played at Michigan State as a freshman before transferring to Arizona. He finished his career with 10,068 yards passing, 67 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He attended Westlake High in Austin, Texas, where he broke several of Drew Brees’ passing records.
“You’re getting a big man, but also a big athlete, not necessarily a runner but he has good feet and good presence,” Reid said. “I like the way he throws the football and he’s also a smart guy, which helps.”
Coming off a disappointing 8-8 season that began with Super Bowl aspirations, the Eagles addressed defense with their first three picks. They traded up to take Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox at No. 12 overall on Thursday night.
The defense ranked eighth last season in total yards allowed, though those numbers may be deceptive. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo had a tough time adjusting to his new role after spending most of his career coaching the offensive line. A slew of high-priced, talented players had chemistry issues in the first half and struggled adapting to a new system and, in some cases, playing different positions.
They seemed to come together during a four-game winning streak that ended the season, and hope that their new additions will help them carry that momentum into this season.
“It wasn’t a plan to go with defense,” Reid said. “We went with the best player available. It’s welcomed. We were playing very good defense at the end of the year and this increases competition.”