ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Lloyd Cushenberry's path to the Broncos started more than a year ago.
During the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Denver traded down from the 10th-overall pick in exchange for Pittsburgh's 20th-overall pick and a pair of other selections.
The Broncos used the 20th pick on Noah Fant and then moved quickly to use the first pick — the 52nd-overall selection — in a trade to move up in the second round to choose quarterback Drew Lock.
They'd have to wait a year to use the final pick, which was a 2020 third-round draft selection. After a disappointing Pittsburgh season, that pick became the 83rd-overall choice in this year's draft.
The Broncos took Cushenberry with the pick, and the deal was finally played out. Denver picked up three starters — assuming Cushenberry wins the center job — to drop 10 spots.
And as the potential missing piece along the interior of the team's offensive line, he could prove to be a more valuable piece of the deal than perhaps either team expected at this time last year.
The 2019 second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC player will have the chance to start from Day 1.
"He is going to go in there and compete with [G/C] Austin [Schlottmann] and Pat [C Patrick Morris]," Head Coach Vic Fangio said Saturday. "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."
President of Football Operations/GM John Elway said the Broncos believe Cushenberry is capable of playing both guard and center, but he'll focus his attention first on the center of the line.
"It fell pretty good for us," Elway said. "We're excited about it. Lloyd is a guy who's had success in the SEC. He's big and very athletic. He's long enough to where he'll be able to play center and guard. "
Cushenberry, who appeared in and started 28 games over the previous two seasons, sounds excited for his chance to earn that role.
"Denver, I can't wait to get up there and meet my new teammates and everyone a part of the organization," Cushenberry said. "The future's bright for the Denver Broncos. I can't wait to be a part of it and try to do my part to get some wins."
He said he knows there will be challenges as a rookie, but he said LSU's five-man protection scheme should help prepare him for the next level.
"I feel like the biggest challenge for me is just understanding the playbook, but at the same time, I also feel like that is one of my strengths," Cushenberry said. "I put in a lot of work, as far as doing things on my own, and taking accountability to learn the playbook. I know it's going to be different from a college system, but I feel like I'm ready for that challenge and I'm looking forward to it."
Cushenberry said he'll approach the learning process the same, regardless of whether the team meets virtually or in person.
And while he had to wait longer than he wanted or anticipated on Day 2 of the draft, he saw a pair of talented offensive players head to Denver before his name was called.
"I've definitely been watching Denver make those picks over the last couple of days," Cushenberry said. "With [WRs] Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, those are two explosive receivers, but just having a bunch of young guys around me, I love it. We're going to grow together and have to go through some things, but at the end of the day we are going to get better and I look forward to being a very explosive offense. I can't wait."