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Playin’ Nice: Mile High Report

Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann of Mile High Report talks Lloyd Cushenberry, the Denver Broncos new starting center

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Today we’re bringing you a pair of Lloyd Cushenberry pieces of content for the price of one. I reached out to Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann, the managing editor of the Denver Broncos SB Nation site Mile High Report to talk about how Lloyd Cushenberry may fit in with the Broncos.

Meanwhile Poseur, was interviewed by Mile High Report about Cushenberry and you can read that interview here.

1. You typically don’t draft a center in the third round unless the position is in need of an upgrade. What was it about Lloyd Cushenberry that Denver valued so highly? Is he the starting center for the Broncos when the season starts?

The Broncos have been trying to stabilize the offensive line for years, even when Peyton Manning was quarterback. The only difference then was, well, he was Peyton Manning and could cover up so many o-line flaws that we didn’t really notice the complete demise until he was gone. Since 2016, John Elway has desperately tried adding free agents and draft picks to fix the offensive line, but few have been able to remain durable enough or actually be good enough to be starters - or even stay on the roster.

After letting center Matt Paradis leave in free agency in 2019 and then letting his replacement Connor McGovern walk this year, there was a clear hole at center. The Broncos picked up Graham Glasgow in free agency, who has played some at center, but the stated desire was to put him at guard and hopefully get a draft pick to compete with Patrick Morris for the starting center job. I fully expect Cushenberry to take that job early in training camp.

Elway likes that Cushenberry has been strong and consistent at the position, playing in arguably the best college conference in the country. You don’t have the best offense in the nation just by talented quarterbacks and weapons. You have to have a Big Ugly in there holding down the fort.

Also, he really believes - and so does most of Broncos Country - that Cushenberry was a top 50 player in the draft and probably in the top three for offensive linemen...so to still be able to grab him in the third round is such great value.

Finally, Elway loves drafting team captains, so Cushenberry checked all the boxes for Denver.

2. We all know John Elway loves tall quarterbacks, that’s just a fact. Cushenberry measured in at the combine at 6’3” which is pretty tall. The only person who touches the ball more than the quarterback is the center so I ask you: does John Elway ALSO love tall centers?

Until Elway drafts a 6-foot-8 center, I’ll go with “no.” What I can tell you for sure that is a staple with Elway is he likes good athletes, no matter the position. He wants guys who are fit, strong, big, athletic - no matter what position they play.

3. How many smoke shops in Denver are lining up to do sponsorship deals with a Bronco player with the last name of Cush?

Probably not nearly as many as fans will create Kush nicknames for him! But my favorite nickname assigned to him so far is “Lord Crush n’ Bury” ... seems fitting.

4. What’s Denver’s expectation for Cushenberry for both 2020 and beyond?

For 2020, it’s definitely to be a starter and a key protector for what we hope is our franchise quarterback, Drew Lock. Beyond that, the Broncos are clearly hoping Cushenberry is the third piece in a much-improved offensive line - next to guards Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow - and another anchor toward building a solid line for years to come. The tackle position will be the next to address, so hopefully Cushenberry develops the kind of relationship Elway had with Tom Nalen and Peyton Manning had with Jeff Saturday.

5. Finally, Cushenberry wore No. 79 but was also bestowed the prestigious 18 jersey but had to wear it as a patch. What are the chances Cushenberry gets to wear both 79 AND have an 18 patch?

Can he run the naked bootleg? If so, it’s a lock (see what I did there?) If Cushenberry becomes the kind of center all quarterbacks need and love, I’m sure both Manning and the family of Frank Tripucka (the original No. 18 owner who had the number retired in Denver but allowed Manning to “borrow” it) would gladly let Cushenberry wear the patch.