Ravens: Ben Cleveland ‘could earn a key role’ in 2021

Ravens, Ben Cleveland Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Ben Cleveland Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens are expecting early results from a number of their 2021 NFL Draft picks. One such player is third-round rookie Ben Cleveland.

Cleveland is expected to compete for the starting left guard job in training camp, and he appears to be the early favorite.

For that reason, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports recently listed Cleveland as a rookie who “could earn a key role” in his rookie season.

Trapasso highlighted Cleveland’s impressive size and the fact that Baltimore expects him to start from day one as reasons why he could make an early impact.

"“Cleveland was born to play in Baltimore. That sentence reads weird if you’re a Ravens fan, doesn’t it? This former Georgia star kindly moves 300-pound defensive linemen out of the intended run lane as if he was organizing stuffed animals in a little kid’s room. Stiff? Yes. But unfairly powerful. After Marshal Yanda’s retirement, the Ravens lost some grown man strength at guard. Cleveland won’t be the next Yanda, but he can provide some of the jolt Baltimore missed in 2020. Cleveland was drafted in Round 3 to start right away.”"

The Ravens have high hopes for Ben Cleveland early in his career.

The Ravens have been searching for a replacement for Marshal Yanda since the longtime stalwart guard retired following the 2019 season. Last year didn’t prove fruitful so they turned to the 2021 NFL Draft for a solution.

Cleveland is that solution as the Ravens believe they landed a day-one starter in the third round. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman even referred to Cleveland as the “best run blocker” in his draft class.

That’s high praise given that he was part of a draft class that was considered particularly strong on the offensive line.

Cleveland will go into the summer competing with the likes of Ben Powers and Tyre Phillips for the starting left guard job. But barring injury, it’s hard to see him not emerging as the Week 1 starter.

The Ravens revamped their offensive line in the offseason signing the likes of Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva in free agency.

Both players are expected to serve as much-needed starting pieces, but Cleveland’s addition helps complete a trio of new starters. And while Zeitler and Villanueva aren’t exactly long-term pieces, the hope is that Cleveland will be starting for years to come.

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Is Ben Cleveland the next Marshal Yanda/Orlando Brown Jr. third-round success? The Ravens sure hope so.