With Ben Powers leaving to sign a big free agent deal with the Denver Broncos, most assumptions have been that Ben Cleveland will be slotting into the starting left guard role. Cleveland is a third-round player entering his third NFL season, and we see the Ravens always look for leaps from these types of players. Of course, there will be competition, but for the most part, it will be about making Cleveland earn the job.
Are Baltimore Ravens not sold on Ben Cleveland?
While that will likely be the case, the Baltimore Ravens have gone out of their way to not only make sure it is a legitimate competition but also make it known to Cleveland that he is not locked into anything.
First, the Ravens have had a group of players get work at left guard. The team signed John Simpson as a veteran with starting guard experience in the NFL. If anyone is a formality type of competition, it is Simpson.
However, the news is that Daniel Faalele and Sala Aumavae-Laulu have both taken a significant amount of snaps at left guard this offseason.
This is notable because they are both right tackles; at least, that is what they were in college. Morgan Moses is starting at right tackle, but at his age and salary, this may be his last year with the team. So, SAL and Faalele could be in spots where they compete to start at right tackle next year. Do they need every rep they can get in these off-season sessions because they will not get the same chances as the season ramps up?
The Ravens would rather see if they can compete with Cleveland at left guard. What is interesting to note is that while the two right tackles are working with the guards, the Ravens are giving Cleveland more work by moving him to right tackle.
"Guard Ben Cleveland has lined up at tackle for most of his minicamp snaps, and he hasn’t exactly looked comfortable. The 2021 third-round pick has struggled with speed rushes and, less surprisingly, with the communication required to defend stunts and twists upfront. After one difficult series, he met with offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris for a quick chat.- Jonas Shaffer
He has taken most of his snaps at tackle, mainly because so many people are getting shuffled into left guard. Beyond that, he is struggling. So, you could argue that the Ravens are giving Cleveland a chance to be the right tackle in 2024 when Moses leaves. Still, it means he is losing chances to get comfortable in the spot where he will be competing to start in 2023.
Cleveland, in year three as a former third-rounder, appears to be on a similar standing to the second-year fourth-rounder and even the rookie sixth-rounder. If Aumave-Laulu and Faalele were getting a depth snap here and there to ensure they are ready to compete, that is one thing. They are out-snapping the expected starter at left guard.
This is going to be more of a competition than some thought it would, and it could be four or more names competing equally for the job and not Cleveland getting the most work, with others getting mixed in.