Just came across this article on ESPN.com on the four USC rookie linebackers making an impact in the NFL - led by the Texans' Brian Cushing. Cushing and former Trojans Clay Matthews III (Packers), Rey Maualuga (Bengals) and Kaluka Maiava (Browns) all were selected in the top 104 picks of this year's draft (bias alert: I'm a proud USC alumnus), and all have enjoyed considerable success in their respective rookie campaigns.
A couple of nuggets from the article:
"The 15th overall player selected in the spring and deemed a starter almost from the moment Texans officials handed in his name to draft officials, Cushing has made more plays from his strongside spot than his former college teammates. Enough, in fact, to have been selected for the ESPN.com All-Pro team at the halfway point of the season."
"Some pro scouts feel that Cushing is already among the five best strongside linebackers in the league. He and (Bills safety Jairus) Byrd certainly have separated themselves from the pack in the race for defensive rookie of the year plaudits."
Cushing is fourth in the NFL and first in the AFC with 99 tackles this season to go along with his three interceptions and 1.5 sacks.