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Broncos roster review: Rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry

The Broncos got themselves a steal in the third round when they selected LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry.

Northwestern State v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Name: Lloyd Cushenberry
Position: Center
Height: 6'3" Weight: 312
Age: 22 Experience: R

In the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry with their 83rd overall selection. He was projected by many to be a top 50 prospect and even was mentioned as a potential first-round pick by some, but he somehow slipped into the third round where the Broncos selected him. He will now compete and likely win the Broncos starting center job this summer.

Here is what LSU Sports had to say about Cushenberry in his player profile on the teams official website.

Cushenberry developed into one of the best centers in LSU history, earning second team All-America honors in 2019. He was a two-year starter at center for LSU during the 2018 and 2019 season. During that span, he played in 39 games during his career, starting the final 28 at center. He also started 28 consecutive games at center from 2018-19 and the Tigers were 25-3 during that span. He was the starting center for every game of Heisman Trophy quarterback Joe Burrow’s LSU career who the Bengals selected with their first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Cushenberry was the first offensive lineman to be awarded the No. 18 jersey (wore a patch on his uniform during the game), which is given to the player that best represents what it means to be an LSU football player – on and off the field. He was called my many as the most valuable player on the 2019 LSU team for his leadership on the field and in the locker room. Cushenberry was invited and participated in the 2020 Senior Bowl where he helped his draft stock. He was seen after many practices working with the younger offensive linemen serving as a mentor to the LSU underclassmen. He also gave LSU a presence on the field as if there was a coach in the huddle Graduated in December of 2019 with a degree in sports administration.

Here the awards and accolades that Cushenberry earned during his time at LSU.

  • No. 83 Pick in 2020 NFL Draft (Round 3) | Denver Broncos | Details2020 Senior Bowl participant
  • 2019 Second Team All-American (AFCA, FWAA)
  • 2019 No. 18 Jersey
  • 2019 LSU Graduate (B.A. Sport Administration)
  • 2019 Joe Moore Award Winner
  • 2019 LSU Football MVP
  • 2019 LSU Permanent Team Captain
  • 2016 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll

Here is what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had to say about Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry in his annual draft guide.

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at LSU, Cushenberry lined up at center in offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger’s offense, earning team MVP honors in 2019. He became the first offensive lineman to be awarded LSU’s coveted No. 18 jersey (only wore it in practice), which is presented to a player with high character and “does all the right things.” Cushenberry anchors well in pass protection with his low hips and physical hands, quickly regaining his balance to redirect vs. counters. Although he doesn’t consistently bully in the run game, he stays connected to his man with quickness and tenacity on the move. Overall, Cushenberry needs to tweak some technical shortcomings, but he is an ironman with the lower body agility, natural power and dependable intangibles to be a starting NFL center.

This is a home run addition by the Broncos as well as an absolute steal considering they selected him with their second third-round selection. He is a day-one starter at center for the Broncos and should thrive under Broncos Hall Of Fame offensive line coach Mike Munchak’s teachings. Add in his leadership and the Broncos could very well have a damn good player here in Cushenberry.

LSU v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Here is what Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway had to say about Cushenberry in a conference call after day two of the 2020 NFL Draft.

“Cushenberry is a guy that is very solid center. He played in the SEC and had a great career down there, so were excited about Lloyd also. We felt like it was a fairly good day today. Ultimately though they have to come in and play, but we felt good about when the day was over where we were.”

So there is a lot to be excited here and I really do think that the Broncos got themselves a good one here in Lloyd Cushenberry.

The Good

The Broncos drafted their starting center in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. That’s a pretty damn good steal if you ask me. Yes, he is going to be competing with Austin Schlottmann and Patrick Morris for the starting job as Broncos Head Coach stated, but Cushenberry in all likelihood will win this competition.

“He is going to go in there and compete with [G/C] Austin [Schlottmann] and Pat (C Patrick Morris). Again, he has the license to go in there and compete and win the job if he can. We’ll see how he develops, but we do like his ability, his potential and the play he put on tape at LSU. He’ll go in there with those other two guys and compete for the job.”

There’s a lot to like about Cushenberry. He has long arms, strong hands, a stout lower base, powerful, athletic, and a leader. Everything you want and look for in a starting center. His road to a starting job is pretty clear as well, so he should be out there week one snapping the ball to quarterback Drew Lock.

This gives the Broncos a rather strong interior offensive line for quarterback Drew Lock and the teams running back to rely on protecting them and opening up running lanes. You have 2019 second-round pick, Dalton Risner, holding down the left guard spot and free-agent addition Graham Glasgow solidifying the right guard spot. Now, Cushenberry will slide in at the center position and round out this interior unit. The big question remains at tackle, but that is another topic for another day.

Cushenberry’s leadership follows the trend of the Broncos Front Office selecting team leaders, high character, and good locker room presence. This is the type of character mixed with talent that should continue the Broncos rise back to the playoffs and potentially to Super Bowl contenders.

Finally, you have Cushenberry being coached up by Hall Of Fame offensive line coach Mike Munchak. He has coached up lesser talented players into reliable starters so I am excited to see what he can do with a talented player like Cushenberry.

The Bad

There’s not a lot for me to say here, honestly. Is Cushenberry a perfect prospect? No. However, he’s much better than where the Broncos got him so the value in getting a starting center in the mid/late third-round outweighs whatever weaknesses he has in his game. Plus. Munchak should be able to clean up these errors in his game.

This pick has a ton of upside and honestly, I wouldn’t have been upset if the Broncos traded back into the first-round for Cushenberry. So, getting him where they did(as I continue to mention) out-weighs any bad I could put in here.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t noticed yet, I really liked this pick. Center was a big need entering the draft and Cushenberry was by all accounts supposed to be a top 50 selection during the draft. Not only did the Broncos solve their center position issue, they also got a steal in Cushenberry by getting them with their 83rd overall selection in the third-round.

I think we’ll see Cushenberry win the starting job fairly early into camp and get plenty of reps with quarterback Drew Lock. Their chemistry will be something to watch early in the season but I don’t foresee many issues there.

As Thorn stated in the tweet above, the Cushenberry addition rounds out a solid interior unit for the Broncos. Risner flashed All-Pro potential during his rookie year and newly signed Graham Glasgow provides a solid and consistent presence at right guard. Also, these two guards should make Cushenberry’s rookie season growing pains less of an issue this upcoming season.

Great value, great prospect, great leadership, and great upside. It’s hard not to be excited about this pick. What do you think Mile High Report?