Drew Boylhart   12/08

Brian Cushing   LB   USC   

 

STRENGTHS

Brian was made to play the LB position.  He has excellent size, speed, strength and burst.  He is a head up, wrap up, squeeze and drive tackler that hits and tackles like baseball-sized hail hitting your windshield while going down the road going 40 mph.  Brian is athletic enough to be impactful in both the run defense and pass defense.  He is an excellent cover LB who reminds me a lot of Brian Urlacher (LB Chicago Bears).  Brian has the ability to play any one of the LB positions and impact.   

 

NEEDS TO IMPROVE

I don't think there is a doctor on the west coast that has not seen this kid in his waiting room.  Brian has a habit of tackling players head-on all the time and because of this, his body has taken a beating.     

 

TALENT BOARD ROUND 1

I feel that if Brian is moved to the MLB position that he will take the angle more when tackling a player and this will allow for a hard hit, but not such a jarring hit that hurts him.  It might take Brian a little time to get comfortable at that position, but I also feel that he will eventually show his leadership skills better from that position.  The key is to keep Brian healthy and on the field and if you keep him at OLB he will just meet the sweep or the off tackle, run head on and continue to get hurt.  At MLB, he will be moving forward with an angle towards the player and tackle with movement. This kid can play.  I understand why he played the OLB position at USC, but I think his natural position for his health and athletic talent is at MLB for the team that drafts him.  Brian Cushing is one of the best pure LB's in this draft because of his leadership skills and because he can play any one of the LB positions.  That being said, his health makes him a big question mark and some teams will downgrade him because of it.  If he checks out all right, I don't think I would downgrade him for health reasons.  I mean really, half the kids in the draft could receive lower draft forecasts because of previous injures.  In my book, it's how well you come back mentally from injuries that makes a difference and Brian has done a hell of a job in that regard.