Burnable absorbers (BA) have evolved remarkably throughout the years to meet the demands of modern pressurized water reactors (PWR). Innovation in the BA technologies has, however, somewhat stalled, delaying the much needed advancement of a PWR core design. It is upon this motivation that a new BA concept named "centrally-shielded burnable absorber" (CSBA) fuel is proposed in this paper. The CSBA fuel rod, which is a standard UO2 fuel pellet with lumped BA cores, offers some level of neutronics flexibilities per operational specifications. With optimization, any loading pattern and core management objective can potentially be fulfilled with the new BA design. Neutronic sensitivities of the CSBA concept in light of its BA spatial self-shielding variation are discussed in the first half of the paper. Meanwhile, much of the second half of the paper is devoted to demonstrate practical viability of the CSBA concept via comparative evaluations against a commercial BA technology in representative 17×17 fuel assemblies and its application in a 3-D small modular reactor core. All simulations were completed using Monte Carlo Serpent code with ENDF/B-7.0 library.