Two Broncos veterans have been placed on notice after general manager George Paton drafted fierce competition.
According to an article by USA Today, Melvin Gordon and Lloyd Cushenberry could be under some pressure during training camp and the upcoming season.
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The Broncos traded up five spots to snag running back Javonte Williams with the 35th overall pick.
“Fan favorite Phillip Lindsay is gone, but second-rounder Javonte Williams may become the anointed one after new GM George Paton traded up for him,” Nate Davis wrote. “Despite a rocky season on the personal front in 2020, Gordon still finished with 1,144 yards from scrimmage and 10 TDs and remains a valuable performer … but one who might bring something nice back in a trade, which would also save Paton about $7 million if done before the season.”
Paton said that Williams was a “special” back that can help the team find success.
“He fit our criteria. He is going to help us — him and Melvin Gordon and Mike Boone,” Paton said. “I feel like you need two or three backs in this league to have success, and he is going to bring that to the table.”
Another Broncos player that could be feeling the pressure is center Lloyd Cushenberry.
Cushenberry was drafted by the Broncos in the third round last year and played every snap during the 2020 season.
According to Jeff Legwold, Cushenberry was criticized by some evaluators for his struggles against the more physical interior defensive linemen he has faced. Getting stronger during the offseason was surely at the top of Cushenberry’s to-do list so he can prevent getting pushed off his spot.
The Broncos drafted guard Quinn Meinerz with the 98th overall pick, who Paton said “has a lot of upside.
“Last year’s third-round pick in Lloyd Cushenberry almost certainly isn’t in danger of losing his roster spot” Davis wrote. “But after starting all 16 games as a rookie and winding up – by far – as Pro Football Focus’ 36th-ranked center out of 36 qualifiers … well, there’s a reason Paton snatched Division III demigod Quinn Meinerz in Round 3 this year, even if he goes to guard and forces veteran Graham Glasgow into the pivot.”
Head coach Vic Fangio told the media in a post-draft press conference that Meinerz will begin working at center.
“I think Munch (Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak) is wanting to start him at center,” Fangio said. “Those centers—unless you’re the starter—have to be able to play guard, too. He’ll start at center and Mike will manage it and determine when he gets him rolling at guard.”
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