5 young Vikings players to watch closely at 2021 training camp

(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Kellen Mond
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Kellen Mond /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Ezra Cleveland /

Ezra Cleveland – OL

There was a lot to like about the way Ezra Cleveland applied himself during his rookie season. The offensive lineman more than held his own against high-class opposition at the next level, and although this came with a few mistakes, it’s a solid foundation from which to build a successful career.

The Vikings will be counting on Cleveland to progress his game sufficiently this offseason. Earning a starting role on the interior is the minimum requirement for the former second-round pick. He’ll also be expected to solidify an area of the field that’s become an ongoing source of frustration.

Cleveland turned out in 622 snaps in 2020, giving up five sacks and conceding one penalty on his way to a creditable 66.2 grade from Pro Football Focus.

The Vikings let some underperforming linemen walk in free agency and also released Riley Reiff, so there is a significant amount of pressure on the Boise State product’s shoulders to make the necessary strides.

This is something the player should be capable of. Cleveland’s physicality is matched by eye-catching athleticism and power, but how he gets on at training camp will go a long way to determining just what we can expect from him in 2021.