Lloyd Cushenberry anxiously waited for the offer. A native of Carville, Louisiana, Cushenberry was a three-star prospect that was slated to go to Mississippi State all the way up until the day before signing day in 2016.
Then the phone call came. He was extended an offer to play for the Tigers and accepted. After a freshman redshirt year, Cushenberry spent the next three seasons molding himself into an SEC caliber offensive lineman and one of the unquestioned leaders of the team.
“I kind of had that chip on my shoulder when I walked in the building the first time," Cushenberry said before the 2019 campaign about the LSU offer. "Knowing not a lot of people knew about me, I just wanted to prove myself every day, and still to this day I just want to continue to prove that I belong at this level.”
By the time his sophomore season in 2018 came along, he had earned the starting position, ultimately spending the next 28 straight games as the Tigers' starting center. Cushenberry was awarded the No. 18 jersey, given each year to the leader of the team and becoming the first offensive lineman in program history to be given the honor.
“I was in shock. It took me a while to stand up because I didn’t know what to say. Everything I said just came from my heart and it was a very emotional time," Cushenberry said. "They [the offensive line] were all proud of me and I feel like I’m not the only one wearing this number. It’s the whole offensive line room. We’re all one."
The LSU offensive line, under Cushenberry's leadership and guidance became one of the better stories of the entire 2019 campaign, winning the Joe Moore award en route to helping an historic offense guide the Tigers to a 15-0 record and national championship berth.
On April 24, day two of the 2020 NFL Draft, Cushenberry anxiously waited for another phone call.
It might've been a little longer than he expected but with the No. 83 overall pick, the Denver Broncos were the team that came calling. A projected second round pick, Cushenberry slid a little further than he expected but couldn’t be happier about where he wound up.
“I was expecting to go a little bit higher [in the draft], but I'm glad to be a part of this organization now," Cushenberry said after the pick. "It is what it is, and I'm happy to be a part of such a great group of people. I can't wait to get to Denver and just go to work."
As the Broncos look for as much protection as possible for quarterback Drew Lock, Cushenberry will immediately step in and be a day-one starter, according to Chad Jensen of Mile High Huddle.
The Broncos were thrilled to land Lloyd Cushenberry III at pick 83 in the draft. Many leading draftniks had Cushenberry rated as a fringe first-round interior O-line prospect, so for Denver to land him in Round 3 was a coup.
How does Cushenberry fit? He projects as the Broncos' day-one starter at center. The Broncos let their incumbent depart in free agency in Connor McGovern and signed ex-Lion Graham Glasgow to handle right guard duties.
Sporting a massive 84-inch wingspan, that length will continue to be an important part of Cushenberry's game for leverage. His brute strength is perfect for an interior lineman role and is a student of the game.
Cushenberry will be stepping into a rather young o-line group as Juwan James is currently the most experienced lineman on the roster at 27 years old and entering his eighth NFL season. Because of that youth, Cushenberry should be able to step in and be a leader relatively soon.
Sandwiched in between Glasgow and 2019 second-rounder Dalton Risner at left guard, Cushenberry should be able to hit the ground running and help keep Drew Lock's throwing lanes and keep the pocket clean.
Stepping in as the team's center is a challenge that Cushenberry doesn't take lightly. As the "point guard" of the offensive line, Cushenberry feels it's his job to make sure that the entire unit is on the same page.
"I love having that responsibility to communicate with everyone and having that burden on my shoulders," Cushenberry said. "To be drafted by a great organization, I can't wait to get up there and meet my new teammates, the future is bright for the Denver Broncos and I can't wait to be a part of it."