'It was a special moment': Cushenberry describes an emotional draft night
After being drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round, Lloyd Cushenberry III describes the moment he got the call from President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and his mindset as he prepares to enter the NFL.
For the past 15 years, LSU has given the No. 18 jersey to players that displayed a selfless attitude and played like a Tiger. That number was worn by quarterback Matt Mauck, who led the 2003 LSU squad to its first national title in 45 years. Cushenberry was the first offensive lineman to earn the coveted number in 2019, sharing the honor with defender K'Lavon Chaisson, though NCAA rules required Cushenberry to stick with his 79 jersey (he displayed an 18 patch on his jersey). He wore that badge of honor well as a junior, garnering first-team All-SEC notice and leading the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line for all 15 games of the Bayou Bengals' national title run. He started all 13 games at center as a sophomore in 2018, one season after contributing as a reserve lineman and on special teams in 11 contests his redshirt freshman campaign. The Carville, Louisiana, native did not get a scholarship offer from LSU until the last minute, when he spurned Mississippi State.
Starting-caliber center with big hands, long arms and good core strength to match power on power when needed. Cushenberry isn't rigid or stiff, but he does have some limitations with lateral quickness, which show up against athletic edge rushers and with potential run game limitations in space. He's extremely difficult to bull-rush and is rarely beaten to the punch in his pass sets. LSU was frequently tasked with five-man protections in its passing scheme, which put Cushenberry on more of an island than he will see as a pro, so scouts should account for that. He's a do-your-job prospect with the strength to handle an odd-front nose and could be a long-time starter.
- Powerful with good core strength and outrageously long arms
- Usually first to the frame in run game
- Possesses core power to stalemate base block in run game
- Swings hips into wall-off positioning for A-gap runs
- Sticks early, stiff jab into frame of the nose tackle and works to extension
- Sets up in pass protection with great posture
- Keeps head back and chin tucked through the rep
- Plays with excellent hand placement in his punch
- Good grip power and core strength to anchor against power
- Controlled climber when working up to MIKE linebackers
- Smooth block-to-block pass-offs when handling twists