The NY Giants badly need a center and could use a leader along the offensive line. Former LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry could give the team both.
For those that frequent our Twitter page over at @GMENHQ, it’ll come as no surprise to see this article. I’ve long had an affinity for former LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry, as the rock-solid offensive lineman possesses many traits that make him extremely valuable to a football team, especially the NY Giants.
First, and most importantly, he’s simply a hell of a football player. in 2019, LSU ran a super modern offense that left Cushenberry on an island more often than not with just five offensive linemen blocking. Still, he more than held his own all season en route to a National Championship victory while the LSU offense broke all kinds of records.
While his athletic testing numbers don’t pop off the screen, he’s got at above-average athleticism for the position. He’s incredibly strong and well-sized for the position, standing 6’3 and weighing 313 pounds with massive 34” arms. Cushenberry flourishes in both the run and pass game, frequently getting to the second level on running plays while rarely getting beat in passing sets.
He’s a true anchor in the middle of the offensive line that every offensive coordinator desires. You never have to worry about Cushenberry missing an assignment, something that we’ve seen all too often over the past few years with the NY Giants offensive line. He’s got heavy hands and is willing to use them to defenders in order to keep his quarterback safe.
One major knock on Cushenberry throughout the draft process has been his performance in one-on-one passing drills during the Senior Bowl. However, excuse me if I’ll value if what I saw all season on the field in the best conference in College Football over a few faux drills at a glorified practice.
Now, onto the rare part of his game. I’ve long been a person that values talent over character, but in the rare instance where you can get both in spades like you can with Cushenberry, I’m all in. The redshirt Junior was given a rare honor with LSU in 2019 as he was given the team’s number 18 jersey which signifies leadership. He was the first offensive lineman in the 15 year running of this practice to receive said jersey number (he was only able to wear it in practice due to NCAA rules).
His teammates eat out of his hands during pivotal moments in big games and he never seems to be nervous. He was the vocal leader of LSU’s offense in general, which is incredibly rare for an offensive lineman. The NY Giants offensive line hopes to be better in 2020, but it’s lacking a vocal leader that can inspire his teammates.
Being that he’ll be at the heart of the offensive line and having to make quick decisions on the fly at all times, you’d much prefer to have a guy with Cushenberry’s makeup in his spot. He’s going to pick his teammates up when they’re down and bring them back down to earth when they are flying too high (something he did very often at LSU).
In my mind, out of the ‘big four’ center prospects, there isn’t a better fit than Cushenberry for Big Blue. He projects as a day one starter with very few holes in his game. The question becomes, which draft pick would we need to use to land him?
The mammoth center has shot up draft boards as the process has unfolded and teams have gotten to know him better, to the point where he’s squarely in the discussion to be the first center off the board as high as the top of the second round. It is going to be tough to determine whether he will still be around in round three, a scenario that doesn’t become any easier after the Leonard Williams trade that would have allowed us an extra 32 slots in round three to select him (Big Blue doesn’t own a pick between 36 and 99).
It’s going to be risky, but the best course of action might be waiting out the run on centers and using #36 on a different position. Then, when the run on centers begins, Gettleman would trade back up into the second or third-round immediately to land Cushenberry. It’s a risky play, and if the team truly loves him than they should just take him at #36, but this team may need to get risky with so many holes to fill.
While he could be the first center off the board, he’s still ranked #4 on most experts’ draft boards. If that’s true of NFL teams, there is a real shot he could be there at #99, or we’ll have to package #99 with future picks to move back up to get him.
One thing is for certain, Lloyd Cushenberry is going to be a long-time starter at a dire position of need, and the NY Giants need to do whatever they have to do to land him.