Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton met with the media at the annual league meetings today and has some interesting things to say about the Broncos' incumbent center. While many have assumed the team would make a change at center. Payton expressed some confidence in the former third-round pick. He told reporters that he believes he will benefit from the additions around him and that they view him as their starting center.
Quit trying to replace Lloyd Cushenberry III. Payton: "We feel like he’s certainly going to benefit from these additions (Powers, McGlinchey). We see him as out starting center, yeah.'' #9sports— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) March 27, 2023
Cushenberry has been the Broncos starting center the past three seasons and played in all 16 games for the team in his first two seasons. However, this past season an injury cut his season short and he played in just 8 games for the Broncos. His play has also been inconsistent during that span, especially last season. With that said, the entire offensive line struggled and regressed last year because of multiple factors which included poor coaching. So, it is possible we see Cushenberry bounce back this upcoming season.
As Payton states, the additions and hopeful improvements around him will help his game as well. He will have Ben Powers at left guard and Quinn Meinerz next to him at right guard, and both of those guards are pretty good and should help Cushenberry’s game. It is also possible that an emphasis on the run game will play into his strengths. Coming out of LSU, he was known for his run blocking, core strength, and long arms. So, hopefully, that will lead to improvement as well.
It is only March and a lot can change between now and the start of the season. There are still multiple veteran centers available and it is still possible they end up drafting a center as well. Payton’s opinion may change between now and then since he has yet to meet the team and see them practice. It would be ideal if Cushenberry figured it out and helped the Broncos turn their offensive line from a weakness to a strength, but we shall see.
As of now, the only depth and competition they have added at center is veteran journeyman Kyle Fuller. He does have starting experience but has been mostly used as a depth piece throughout his career and that is likely the role he will fill with the Broncos. If the Broncos do not make any significant additions between now and the start of training camp, then Cushenberry will be the starting center.