Washington rookie safety Kamren Curl entered 2020 with high expectations for himself, but the outside world did not set the same standard.
A seventh-round pick by Washington in the 2020 NFL Draft, Curl faded into the background of a class that featured impactful first-year players like Chase Young and Antonio Gibson. Yet by the end of the season, Curl had become an important piece of Washington's success.
What helped him get there was a lack of attention. It only made him work harder to prove his worth.
“I mean, just getting drafted in the seventh round put a chip on my shoulder," Curl said during Washington's locker cleanout on Sunday. "I felt like I was way better than that.”
“I just came in just put in my mind when I get the opportunity, I got to take advantage of it," Curl said.
The opportunity came after safety Landon Collins suffered a torn Achilles in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys. Curl noted it was an unfortunate way to earn more playing time, but something he needed to make the most of.
That he did, playing some great defensive football down the stretch for Washington. After taking over as the starter in the team's eighth game, Curl recorded three interceptions, one touchdown and two sacks to help propel Washington to a playoff berth.
Using the low expectations many set for him as motivation, Curl was able to push himself to the forefront of the conversation around the defense. No longer is he just a seventh-round pick, but rather a steal for Washington and someone that will be a key part of the defense moving forward.
Now as the offseason approaches, Curl understands that he won't fly under the radar next season. Expectations will be set for him. In order to achieve them, he'll spend the coming months working on all parts of his game. That way, no matter what is asked of him once Collins returns, he will be able to handle it.
“I'm gonna just keep training to be versatile," Curl said. “I’m just training to be a DB, no specific position.”