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Is Ezra Cleveland a potential answer for the Giants?
The New York Giants not only need an immediate upgrade to their offensive line, but they also need long-term answers at several positions. It is possible that they will sign an offensive tackle in free agency, but even so they should still draft a tackle if the value is right.
So while the Giants might not draft a tackle with the fourth overall pick, there will still be tackles later in the draft who have starting upside. Boise State left tackle Ezra Cleveland has the athleticism and movement skills to develop into a reliable starter in the NFL, and he could be a long-term answer for the Giants later in the draft.
Prospect: Ezra Cleveland (OT, Boise State)
Games Watched: vs. Troy (2018), vs. Fresno State (2018), vs. Florida State (2019), vs. Hawai’i (2019)
Red Flags: Foot (2019)
Height: 6060 (6-foot-6)
Weight: 310 pounds
(Note: These are school measurements.)
Games Played (starts): 40 (40)
Best: Athleticism, length, fluidity, pass protection
Worst: Play strength
Projection: A developmental tackle in an offense which uses zone blocking concepts.
Ezra Cleveland is an offensive tackle prospect with a long, lean, and athletic frame. He shows good flexibility and fluidity in his lower half with good ankle, knee, and hip flexibility. Cleveland is a fluid, athletic mover in pass protection with a good kick-slide and plenty of mobility to mirror edge rushers in space. He shows good hand usage in pass protection, keeping hands up and in a “ready” position before firing them into defenders’ chest plates. Cleveland uses his hands well to counter speed moves and does a good job of dealing with stunts and twists along the offensive line.
Clevleand is an effective blocker on zone running schemes. He uses his athleticism well to create movement along the line of scrimmage and prevent penetration. He blocks with a definite “nasty streak”, consistently looking to finish his blocks and push defenders out of plays. Cleveland also has a good sense for positioning defenders to create running lanes. He also shows good athleticism and movement skills as a puller on power runs or blocking for screen plays. Cleveland is also very aggressive and shows good competitive toughness when playing off of double teams and blocking at the second level.
Cleveland will need to improve his play strength for the NFL level. He struggles to sustain his blocks and can be pushed around by bull rushers in both pass run run blocking. His grip strength is also a question, though this might be related to a desire to avoid penalties. Cleveland can struggle to block inside moves by pass rushers and also appear confused in pass protection when defenders make an unexpected counter-move.
Overall Grade: 6.2D – Has plus athletic traits to be an eventual starter. However, carries some risk and is in need of development. A value later on the second day.
Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland projects to be a potential starter at the NFL level. He has the athletic traits to be a starting tackle at the NFL level but will need to improve his play strength and become more consistent in his mental processing. He is a fluid mover who is easily able to get width and depth on his pass sets and play with good leverage. Cleveland is able to mirror edge rushers and uses his hands well to keep them from winning with speed moves.
In the running game, he is best suited for a zone blocking scheme which will emphasize his athleticism and minimize his relative lack of play strength. He is capable of creating movement on outside zone runs and use his athleticism to position defenders on power-based concepts, but can struggle to sustain blocks when forced to square up on defenders. He shows a good awareness of penalties and looks to avoid hurting his team, but that can lead to him not locking in blocks and defenders slipping past him.
Cleveland should be able to push for a starting job early in his career if he is able to bring up his functional strength. His floor is high enough that he should be able to be a reliable back-up that teams wouldn’t hesitate to activate on game days.