Cushing's career measured vs. Matthews, Maualuga

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

They are likely to be the best trio from the same position group at the same school to all be drafted in the first round. For years the debate may rage -- who's tops among the three USC linebackers of 2009?

The Texans had first choice of them, and went with Brian Cushing over Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga. If the other two go before Detroit starts the second round with the 33rd pick -- and they are expected to -- it'll likely be a fun and lengthy conversation we have comparing and contrasting.

At 6-3 and 243, Cushing brings the size the Texans wanted so badly to add at the position. But as a Trojan, he had multiple shoulder injuries, as well as an ankle injury and a broken hand. With size the Texans sought ruggedness and durability. It's fair that the question he carries into the league is whether he can give it to them.

If he holds up, there is no reason to think he won't be a good pro and make a case for himself in his ongoing competition with Matthews and Maualuga for status.

First off the board, he's got an early 1-0 lead on them both.