Was Ben Cleveland quietly a winner from Baltimore Ravens 2023 NFL draft?
The NFL draft is a fun moment for rookies about to start their journey in the NFL, but it is a frustrating weekend for veterans who may be watching the team they are on draft someone to take their job. For the Baltimore Ravens, Nelson Agholor saw Odell Beckham and Zay Flowers come in after him, pushing him far down the totem pole.
On the flip side, one player who certainly had questions, but may have survived the weekend was Ben Cleveland.
Baltimore Ravens trust Ben Cleveland to start in 2023
Last season Cleveland was a backup, but now is entering his third NFL season. He has 367 snaps at left guard, and 95 snaps at right guard so there is a limited sample size. He did not show much in that time, but signs are starting to point to the idea that he will be starting at left guard in 2023.
When the Baltimore Ravens let Ben Powers walk in free agency it was expected. They did not have the cap space, and with Cleveland waiting in the wings, it was clear that he was set to be the starter. Of course, the NFL draft was a moment to watch for Cleveland to ensure his job was set.
The Ravens actually did take a couple of offensive linemen, but they waited until rounds six and seven to do so. Sala Aumavae-Laulu may get some looks at guard, but he played right tackle at Oregon. He has a big frame, like Daniel Faalele, and the vibe from the selection is that he will push Faalele as depth, and was not taken to move to guard and push Cleveland.
Then, the Baltimore Ravens drafted Andrew Vorhees. They traded a future pick to ensure he was on the team, and Vorhees has played all offensive line spots, including left guard. His best projection is guard, so this is insurance for Cleveland but is not his replacement. Vorhees tore his ACL in March, so he is not playing this season, or at the earliest, he is on the David Ojabo track.,
Beyond that, with Kevin Zeitler on the last year of his deal, and Vorhees playing right guard last season, they could have long-term plans in mind on the right side, not left.
So, when you break things down, Ben Cleveland survived the weekend unscathed. The only real competition for him will not even play this season, and the competition he saw before the draft is the same group after the draft. There are some UDFAs, but Ben Cleveland has to feel like he is locked into starting next season. We could not say that for sure last week at this time, so that does make him a bit of a winner.