• USC’s Brian Cushing is the rare prospect who will fit in any defensive scheme in the NFL. He can play inside or outside in either a 3-4 or 4-3. Very few linebackers have that ability. Where he looked best, though, was over the tight end as a strongside linebacker in the 4-3. His body type, power and aggression lend well to doing battle with opposing tight ends. For a taller linebacker, he gets low and is not a leverage liability. He showed quick hips turning and running with the tight ends. The one area in which he didn’t look quite as comfortable was in his read-and-react skills while working in zone coverage. But overall, Cushing’s wide skill set drastically reduces his draft-bust factor. If anyone here is a great fit for New England, it’s Cushing.
• Cushing’s teammate at USC, Clay Matthews, continues to be extremely impressive. He bends very well and always seems to be in proper football position. His change of direction is abrupt yet smooth. As an edge rusher, he did not lose speed bending the corner and got his shoulder low to the ground, making him very difficult to block. His pad level is consistently exceptional and he is an excellent hit-on-the-rise player who makes contact with the same leg and shoulder when taking on blocks. Matthews is very fundamentally sound but also very athletic. He would be an immediate demon on special teams while learning the linebacker position at the NFL level. At this point, it won’t surprise us if the USC trio of Cushing, Matthews and Rey Maualuga are all off the board in the first 40 picks.
Tags: Aggression, Brian Cushing, Change Of Direction, Clay Matthews, Defensive Scheme, football, Linebacker Position, linebackers, New England, NFL FOOTBALL, Nfl Level, Rey Maualuga, S Brian, Skill Set, Strongside Linebacker, Teammate, Tight End, Tight Ends, Usc Trojan, Video Interview, Zone Coverage
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