Ezra Cleveland is a durable and decorated left tackle out of Boise State. He has started 40 games at left tackle in his college career. Cleveland came in as a redshirt freshman and started every possible game in the freshman, sophomore, and junior year before declaring for the NFL draft.
Cleveland earned Honorable mention All-Conference honors in his freshman year, and then was named first-team all-conference in his sophomore and junior years.
Tackle | Boise State | r-Junior
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 311 pounds | 40-time: 4.93 seconds
Arm Length: 33 3/8” | Hands: 9”
- Quick out of stance and into initial pass slides
- Patient approach in pass sets
- Good athlete for the position
- Projects well as a zone blocking tackle
- Very average from a core strength perspective
- Doesn’t play explosive through his hands
- Tends to set tall
- Needs better punch timing to improve his length
What analysts are saying about Ezra Cleveland
Athletic left tackle able to make all outside zone blocks in the run game, but in dire need of additional mass and functional strength. Tape work can be tricky as Cleveland suffered a turf toe injury in his second game of the 2019 season and was unable to practice for much of the year. Issues anchoring and redirecting edge pressure are independent from his injury, but determining the impact of that injury on his play is challenging. He plays with patience and technique but lacks base width and contact balance. Cleveland has the athleticism to play swing tackle for a zone-based offense but needs to get much stronger to hold up as a starter.
A three-year starter at Boise State, Cleveland was the starting left tackle in head coach Bryan Harsin’s offense. After his redshirt year, he earned the starting left tackle job (pushing Archie Lewis to right tackle) as a freshman and started 40 games there the last three seasons, playing 95.6% of Boise’s offensive snaps over that span. An impressive athlete for the position, Cleveland is comfortable in space with a quick, efficient punch and the intelligence to beat rushers to the spot. However, his lack of anchor strength and explosiveness in his hands are concerns for his NFL transition. Overall, Cleveland struggles to match power in the run game and his lack of length creates a small margin for error, but he stays balanced in his pass sets with the lower body athleticism that frustrates rushers, projecting as an NFL starter.
Truth be told, if the Broncos went with Cleveland over Austin Jackson, you wouldn’t hear too much complaint from me. Both have things to work on, but Cleveland is probably further along in his development than the Trojan is. He shows solid mental processing in how he anticipates opponents and angles. This helps him stay patient in his pass drops and rarely take the cheese on blitzes or stunts. His movement through space is developed enough that he’s become a competent positional blocker, and in time he should be an asset getting to the second level and interfering with backers.
The biggest concerns with Cleveland start with his strength. His punch needs more oomph behind it, and he could use some more sand in his pants. Right now he gives up too much ground to bull rushers and looks like an unreliable drive blocker. I suspect he’ll always be closer to adequate than elite on gap runs because he may never have the kind of mean mentality to punish an opponent.
Driscoll has all the athleticism and technique to succeed at tackle in the NFL. Now he just needs to add the strength. The track record of success for tackles with Cleveland’s movement skills is very good. The ones who don’t make it generally have strength issues, but his 30 reps show that Cleveland knows his way around the weight room.
Does he fit with the Broncos
I think aside from Josh Jones, Ezra Cleveland is the next best tackle available and would love to see Denver pursue him on Day 2. Cleveland needs a little time to get stronger, and could potentially sit for a year to develop, but I think Denver should strongly consider a guy like Cleveland during the 2nd round.