Could the Vikings start a rookie at left tackle in 2020?

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images) Ezra Cleveland
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images) Ezra Cleveland /

As their second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, does Ezra Cleveland have a legitimate shot to be the starting left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings this year?

Attempting to fix the offensive line during the offseason has been an annual tradition of the Minnesota Vikings for a number of years.

This attempt has become a little more serious during the last few offseasons as the Vikings have used a number of early-round draft picks to improve the outside and inside of their offensive line.

This year, Minnesota used another early-round selection on a new blocker when they used their second-round pick on former Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland.

Cleveland spent the majority of his time in college lining up as a left tackle, but the Vikings believe he has the versatility to play tackle or guard if needed.

Recently, Minnesota offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak shared some of his thoughts on the team’s newest blocking prospect.

"“He’s a really good athlete and he’s very bright. That’s the type of guys we’ve had a lot of success with in our scheme. With Ezra, we’re going to work with him to do a lot of different things. Working at tackle, we’re going to ask him to move inside and work at guard. We’re going to play our best five guys. He makes us very competitive the minute he walks in the building. His football brain gives us the ability to do a lot of things with him and then settle him down where we feel best.We’ve spent a few days already just kind of talking to him and it’s very clear to us that this kid could be a quick study for us moving forward.”"

At the very least, it sounds like Kubiak has been pretty impressed by Cleveland from the interactions he’s had with him during the last few weeks. That should mean something since the Vikings’ current offensive coordinator has been coaching the NFL for multiple decades, so it’s not hard for him to recognize someone who has the potential to be great.

As for Cleveland’s chances to open the 2020 season as Minnesota’s starting left tackle, keep them low at this moment in time. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic eliminating OTAs and likely putting in-person coaching on hold until training camp, all of the Vikings rookies are probably going to need a little longer to adjust to the pro level before they can make any sort of impact.

This isn’t to say that Cleveland couldn’t impress Minnesota’s coaching staff enough before the season to make him their starting left tackle. So don’t count the rookie out, especially since his competition in Riley Reiff is not someone who has performed anywhere close to exceptional during his last few years with the Vikings.

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Minnesota would probably love for Cleveland to emerge and win the battle to be their starting left tackle for 2020. But the Vikings also know better than to rush a rookie out onto the field before he’s ready, especially when that player is a part of the offensive line.