The rookie offensive lineman has been excelling for the Minnesota Vikings this season.
Following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, there were a number of Minnesota Vikings fans who were confused by the team’s decision to not draft an offensive guard with one of their early-round selections.
The Vikings did use their second-round pick on Boise State offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland, but he spent the majority of his time in college as an offensive tackle. After Minnesota drafted Cleveland, most assumed that he would be the eventual replacement for left tackle Riley Reiff in the starting lineup.
But when the Vikings’ training camp began this summer, the team had Cleveland taking most of his practice reps at both guard spots on the offensive line. Apparently, this was a good idea since the rookie has been starting at right guard for Minnesota in their last three games and he has been doing well.
Should the Minnesota Vikings keep Ezra Cleveland as a guard?
Shortly after Cleveland was drafted, multiple members of the Vikings coaching staff and front office mentioned that the team was going to give him an opportunity as both a guard and a tackle.
So while it might have been a shock for some to find out that Minnesota was using the rookie as a guard in training camp this summer, the possibility of him playing on the interior of the offensive line was in the team’s mind long before the regular season even began.
Thanks to injuries Pat Elflein and Dru Samia, the Vikings were forced to start Cleveland at right guard during their last three games. To the surprise of some, the rookie has exceeded expectations during his time on the field and it’s hard to imagine him giving up his spot in the starting lineup before the end of the season.
With Cleveland’s success at guard, is taking over as Minnesota’s starting left tackle in the near future now out of the question?
It shouldn’t be completely ruled out as a possibility just yet. But if Cleveland continues to progress and perform well at right guard, the Vikings would be wise to follow the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” phrase.
With a 3-5 record after the first half of their season, will the Minnesota Vikings turn things around and make the playoffs?
Believe it or not, the development of Minnesota’s offensive line might be heading in the right direction with young blockers like Cleveland, Brian O’Neill, and Garrett Bradbury leading the way. Considering how the Vikings offensive line has performed in the recent past, this is a mind-blowing thought to have.