The Houston Texans could use their first round pick to select Brian Cushing’s future replacement.
Cole Thompson of USA Today Sports’ Draft Wire has released his latest NFL mock draft.
Thompson has the Houston Texans using the 25th overall pick on Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham.
"I said earlier there are a few picks I probably won’t change, and this is another. Brian Cushing is injury prone while Benardrick McKinney is a solid run stopper. A perfect “Will” backer in the Texans’ 3-4 defense, Cunningham is a tackling machine with above-average coverage skills. Moving him permanently inside would allow him to be an enforcer against the run while also helping defend the pass against crossing tight ends and running backs out of the backfield"
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There’s no doubt that one of the weak links in the Texans stout defense is linebacker Brian Cushing since he’s no longer a three down player.
Cushing is also unreliable since he’s also only played an entire 16 game regular season three times during his eight year NFL career.
There’s a good chance that Cunningham could come in and start right away. And if the Texans feel like he’s not ready to do so, he can always learn behind Cushing during his rookie year.
It would also be easy for the Texans to move on from Cushing after the 2017 season since the cap hit wouldn’t be as brutal as it would be this year.
Dumping Cushing now would save Houston $9.3 million, but it would also create $4.2 million in dead money. If they wait until 2018, they would save $9.7 million and would only have $1.2 million dead money.
At the end of the day, Cunningham would really help the Texans move on from Cushing within the next year or two.