2021 NFL Draft Profile: Ben Cleveland

Ben Cleveland was at the University of Georgia for what seemed to be a decade and now he's off to the NFL.
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Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland was a member of the University of Georgia for what seemed to be a decade. Now, he's off to the 2021 NFL Draft after what was arguably his best season yet at Georgia. 

He was named a second-team All-America by The Athletic, third team by the Associated Press, All-SEC first team by AP and the league's 14 head coaches. He started at right guard in all nine regular-season games and was selected SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, the third time he won the award during his career. 

That occurred after a redshirt-junior season when he seriously contemplated making the leap to the NFL, but elected to come back for a redshirt senior season in hopes of improving his NFL Draft stock in 2021. And he did exactly that. 

Here is his NFL Draft Profile: 

Strengths

It goes without saying that at 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, Cleveland is one of the strongest players available in the NFL Draft. The only question is: just how strong is he? He's almost become a mythical mountain man of sorts during his time at Georgia. There have been rumors of strength coaches at Georgia having to stop him at 45 reps on the 225-pound bench press. The current NFL Combine record is 49 reps at 225 pounds by former Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Cleveland has a legitimate shot at breaking that record this year. 

That strength translates to the field for Cleveland. He's virtually immovable in pass pro. His anchor is unmatched in this year's NFL Draft in terms of interior offensive linemen. Additionally, he's become extremely aware of twists and stunts throughout his career and he passes them off effortlessly. 

If a team is looking for someone to reset the line of scrimmage in the run game, Cleveland is the guy. He's continually proven during his time at Georgia that he is the definition of a road grader. 

Weaknesses

The idea of a screen game was foreign to Georgia's offensive coordinators for the first four years of Ben Cleveland's collegiate career. When Todd Monken took over the Georgia offense in 2020, it became very clear early on that he was going to attempt to bring the screen game to Georgia. It exposed Cleveland's ability to engage defenders in space in 2020. What he brings to the table in brute force, he lacks in overall athletic ability in space. 

That being said, sources close to the program tell Dawgs Daily that Cleveland is expected to run fast at the NFL Combine, and it's going to surprise some people. But do not confuse straight-line speed for side-to-side athleticism for a prospect like Cleveland. 

It will be important to see how much he can improve in lateral ability leading up to the Combine. The 5-10-5 drill and 3-cone testing numbers will be an important data point. 

He can be tightly hipped at times, and it shows when he gets into the open field or is asked to pull on run plays. 

Scheme Fit

If a team plays outside zone, screen game, or counter run-heavy football team, Cleveland isn't the guy. But if the offense revolves around a downhill run scheme with play-action built in, Cleveland can make an impact early in his career. Teams like the Cleveland Browns or Tennessee Titans that are run-heavy offenses need players like this. 

Draft Projection: Third or fourth round

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