Photo of Brian Cushing
Grade
?
  • 4.74 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 30 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 120.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.84 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.22 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'3" Height
  • 243LBS. Weight

Overview

While teammate Rey Maualuga generated most of the headlines over their respective careers, it could be the versatile Cushing who enjoys the last laugh come draft day. While he has struggled with durability at times, Cushing held up in 2008, starting all 13 games for the Trojans and earning second-team AP All-American accolades despite rather pedestrian statistics (73 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks).

NFL scouts don't admire Cushing for his statistics, but for his versatility. Athletic and instinctive enough to star at linebacker and yet big and strong enough to compete at defensive end -- as he did in starting 13 games at the position in 2006 when injuries forced the Trojans to be creative -- Cushing is arguably the draft's most versatile defender.

Cautious teams will certainly look into Cushing's previous struggles with durability, but his upside might be too much to allow him to get out of the top 20 come draft day.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Physical prototype with a combination of excellent size and overall athleticism for the position. Versatile. Signed with USC as a potential strong safety candidate, but has played defensive end, strong-side linebacker and even middle linebacker. Physical and intense. Big hitter who looks to intimidate opponents with his physicality in every phase of the game. Attacks blocks aggressively and flashes not only explosiveness but ferocity as a tackler. Good straight-line speed. Good flexibility to turn and run with tight ends and backs in coverage. Reads the quarterback well and can break on the ball. Productive pass rusher who is equally effective as an end and blitzing linebacker. Immediate standout performer who started for USC as a freshman. Negatives: Has struggled with injuries throughout his career, missing five games due to a shoulder separation in 2005 and three games in 2007 due to a high ankle sprain, as well as undergoing surgery after the 2006 (shoulder) and 2007 (knee) spring practices. Relies on his athletic ability rather than his upper body strength to defeat blocks too often. Can overrun the play and allow for cutback opportunities. Mistakes often covered up by the surrounding talent at USC.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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