12. Brian Cushing, MLB, 2009 15th overall pick
Cushing is a madman. That’s about as simple as it gets. He was the first of an incredible trio of linebackers off the West Coast from USC. Including longtime Bengal Rey Maualuga and Packers pass rusher Clay Matthews.
Cushing won Rookie of the Year with an outstanding first campaign. 133 tackles. Four sacks. Four interceptions. Two forced fumbles. One safety. Cushing was a one-man wrecking ball for the Houston Texans.
He was suspended for PEDs to start the next season but, continued his dominance after that. Then the injury bug bit for the first time. Over the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Cushing missed 24 games to injury. After that, he appeared to have lost a step or two.
Cushing no longer had his sideline to sideline ability. He became a linebacker of old and was quickly being passed up by the NFL world around him. Cushing was hit with a 10 game suspension this year.
Cushing will go down as one of the best Houston Texans for a long time. Injuries and the suspensions have zapped some of those good memories, though. The Texans cut Cushing this past year in favor of bigger, faster, stronger, and younger guys.
11. Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE, 2014, 1st overall pick
Clowney holds it down for the East Coast in this one.
Injuries robbed Clowney of his first season as a member of the Houston Texans. They also knocked him out part of his second season as well. Many were ready to write him off as a major bust.
However, in his third year, Clowney began to show off his talent that can make him a superstar. In 2016, Clowney stepped up and help fill the hole left behind by JJ Watt‘s injury. While his stats haven’t necessarily shown it, only 20 sacks total, his impact has been tremendous.
Now, Clowney has two pro bowls to his name. He likely will ink an enormous contract extension this offseason. We’ll likely see Clowney climb this list if he continues on his current arc.