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Posted April 14, 2009

Brian Cushing Better Enjoy the Spotlight

Every year, the NFL invites around four to six first-round prospects to join in on the fun of Draft Week in Manhattan, and sit in the green room prior to walking up to the podium, get handed a jersey, and take a few pictures with the NFL commish.

This year, Brian Cushing might want to bring a sleeping bag to Radio City Music Hall.

I have always felt Cushing is one of the more overrated players in the 2009 NFL Draft. He lacks instincts, doesn't make many impact plays, and didn't play on third down very much for the Trojans, which is a huge red flag in itself. Why didn't Pete Carroll leave him on the field?

The answer is because he lacks range in zone coverage and happens to be a liability against the pass.

You really have to wonder what scheme Brian Cushing fits into. He is a good pass rusher, but not a great one for the 3-4 outside linebacking position. He lacks the fluid hips and instincts to be a 4-3 WILL. He can fit as a strongside linebacker in the 4-3 defense, but he is still a liability against the pass.

Cushing is more of an athlete than a football player. He looks great with his shirt off at weigh-ins. But how great will he look sitting in front of a camera for three hours on Draft Day waiting for his name to be called?

The only reason Cushing was invited to the Draft was because the NFL Network is doing a "documentary" on the path to the draft for Cushing, Matt Stafford, and Michael Crabtree. They wanted to include Cushing in Manhattan for some extra footage.

Cushing could have turned it down, but he obviously thinks he is going in the first round.

Earth to Cushing: you are not a first-round pick.

Buffalo and New Orleans are at picks way too high for Cushing's talent level. Houston recently signed Cato June and may consider fellow Trojan Clay Matthews if it chooses to go with a linebacker. The 3-4 teams in the first round that need an outside linebacker have better options than Cushing: Aaron Maybin, Larry English, Matthews, Everette Brown and Clint Sintim. Outside of the top 15, these teams would happen to be New England, Miami, and maybe Arizona.

The 4-3 teams in this same range that need an outside linebacker include the Falcons and Giants - and no one else. Atlanta could go with Brandon Pettigrew, while the Giants may draft a receiver.

This means Cushing really could be a second-round draft pick. If the NFL feels like Cushing is as overrated as I think he is, there is a small chance he falls out of the second round altogether.

I do not delight in watching a player fall on Draft Day; it's just a part of the process. In order for some dreams to come true, other dreams have to get crushed.

With all the cameras fixed in on Cushing, could he take a Draft Day fall like we've never seen before on television?

Matt McGuire's Recent NFL Draft Blog Entries:

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Kentucky 2010 NBA Draft Prospect Blog - 6/1
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