The Baltimore Ravens addressed a major need on Friday, selecting former University of Georgia Ben Cleveland 94th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. The big man with the nickname of “Big Country” stands at 6-foot-6-inches and weighs 343 pounds, and he will add some serious heft to the offensive line.
A starter of nine games in 2020, Cleveland earned third-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-SEC honors with his standout play at right guard. Now he will compete while trying to become an immediate contributor along the offensive line. Ben Powers and Ben Bredeson will be his primary competition heading toward the 2021 season.
Ravens’ newest guard Ben Cleveland across four seasons at Georgia:
🔒 Pass-blocking snaps: 741
🔒 QBs hits allowed: 3
🔒 QB sacks: 1 pic.twitter.com/ts7SNJ82Gj
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
Cleveland will also likely line up at left guard and push Bradley Bozeman to his natural position of center if he impresses during training camp, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec. However, the Ravens will still need to add another offensive tackle after trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs.
With this selection, the Ravens have kept a unique streak going. The team has selected an offensive lineman in the third or fourth round of six straight NFL Drafts. Head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta emphasize the rushing attack each year, and they continue adding depth to the line in order to boost production.
Cleveland has a body built for the Ravens offense
According to NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein, Cleveland will have to make some improvements heading into his rookie season, but he is made for his new role. He is a massive human being with “well-distributed mass,” and he generates considerable power when blocking for his running backs. Bleacher Report’s draft profile adds that Cleveland generates consistent movement at the point of attack.
The great @BrandonThornNFL spotlighted these five plays to show what Ben Cleveland could do in the NFL.
Before the draft, he called the Ravens one of the best fits for Big Country’s skill sets. pic.twitter.com/o3Duaw2dVK
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) May 1, 2021
“Talk about a guy with his size,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on Friday. “The way he moves, you talk about a guy who will have a long career in the NFL. Right guard, All-SEC player. Size, strength, confident movement as a drive blocker. Pass protection held up really well at Georgia.
“[You] have to wonder about athletic limitations, but he is a guy, certainly as a pass blocker, anchored really well against power,” Kiper continued. “[I] liked the way he played. Actually, I kept moving him up as one of the top-five offensive guards in this draft.”
ESPN’s Booger McFarland echoed the sentiment, saying that Cleveland may struggle early in his career against more athletic defensive tackles. Though he continued and said that the big guard will be perfect for the “downhill rushing attack” that the Ravens use each week.
Cleveland impressed media members during his first Zoom availability
According to Ryan Mink, editorial director for the Ravens, Cleveland is already building a fanbase in Baltimore. He explained during his Friday night Zoom availability that he took a unique approach to change his physique and better prepare for the NFL season.
“Well known for his love of the great outdoors, the former Bulldog offensive lineman told reporters on Zoom that a change in diet, which apparently included eating more squirrel, helped prepare him for the event,” Mink tweeted on Friday night.
In addition to discussing his dietary habits, Cleveland acknowledged that he is the second member of the Ravens to have the nickname of “Big Country.” Offensive lineman Tyre Phillips also has the nickname, which could create some potential issues. However, Cleveland told media members that the nickname might go in and out or that he might pick up a new one as he approaches his first season.
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