It was 10 years ago that Cortez Broughton was a good enough baseball player to help his team qualify for the Little League World Series and draw the attention of former standout Major League pitcher Orel Hershisher, but once he got to high school his focus turned to football and that decision has led him to the doorstep of possibly getting taken in next week’s NFL Draft.
Broughton was one of 36 players with area high school or college ties invited by the Bengals to participate in a workout for the team on Monday.
The 6-foot-2, 293-pound defensive tackle from the University of Cincinnati is coming off a very productive senior season in which he had 18.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 quarterback sacks and also had five passes defended.
His measurables and the fact he didn’t really flourish until his senior season thanks to having five different defensive line coaches during his UC career have him projected to be a Day 3 pick (sometime in the sixth or seventh round).
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Broughton’s career at UC was possibly hindered by the revolving door of position coaches and says, “Broughton woke up in a big way this season. He flashes adequate play strength and athletic ability, but he lacks desired physical traits and he doesn’t have one area that is a big plus for him relative to NFL competition. He could benefit from learning from a single voice.”
Broughton said he didn’t necessarily consider having so many different positions coaches as a negative.
“Some people look at in a bad way, but take advantage of it,” said Broughton. “You can always learn something from someone – good coach or bad coach. Take a piece of what to do and what not to do and just have an understanding of, now I can mold myself to who I want to be and I have the repertoire to do it.”
He certainly took advantage of it this past season when he helped UC to a final record of 11-2.
After combining for 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in his first three seasons combined he nearly doubled his productivity in both categories in 2018 alone.
The analysis from NFL.com said of Broughton, “Big senior season creates intrigue. High-energy with positive leadership and personality traits.”
The negatives though, according to NFL.com, are that he has, “below-average height, weight and length – weight is not distributed proportionally through frame.”
Some of those same things were said about current Bengals standout defensive tackle Geno Atkins when he was entering the 2010 draft, which is why he wasn’t taken until the fourth round.
All Atkins has done is get selected to six Pro Bowls and been named All-Pro twice.
Broughton would like to emulate Atkins and admits he’s a big fan and was giddy over a chance meeting with him last year.
“Me and my friend were going to Kroger in Newport and driving down there I was sitting in the passenger seat watching his highlight tape and we go in and who do we see? Geno Atkins,” said Broughton, “Just a chance meeting and it was great to get to talk to him. I felt like I learned so much in just that meeting. He had to keep grinding to make it. He wasn’t a finished product. Some people have it right now, but a lot of times you have to grind through it and that is one of the things I had to do. All throughout I was still learning and the puzzle pieces are starting start to fit together.”
Not bad for a kid who was originally more baseball prodigy than football prodigy.
He was a pitcher and first baseman on the 2009 Warner Robbins, Ga., Little League team that lost in the quarterfinal round of the Little League World Series to eventual champion Chula Vista, Calif. It was there that he garnered Hershisher’s attention.
“He reached out to my dad and said, ‘Hey, I would like to give him some lessons,'” said Broughton. “Once I learned in football I got to hit people I fell in love with it. I knew if I could have a path in baseball, I could have a path in football. Baseball kind of died down and at the time, and I was like I just want to do something I like to do. When you are inside that helmet with the visor on and it’s hot as can be or it’s cold as can be and it doesn’t matter how loud the crowd is I can just focus in and it’s just that moment where you analyze the field and get in your stance and play. I’ve always had that love for football.”