OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens rookie offensive lineman Ben Cleveland knows how to adjust.
Sometimes that means changing his technique against a blitzing defensive end or eating squirrel in his native Toccoa, Ga., where he earned the nickname "Big Country."
"I don’t know if it was a specific diet," Cleveland said about eating squirrels. "It’s more so one of those things where you eat what you’ve got in the freezer from the fall. I had a few squirrels freeze-dried in there. So, you get a little hungry, I don’t have any deer meat left, fry up a squirrel or two, and you just go eat that.”
The Ravens selected Cleveland with the 94th pick of the NFL draft. He has impressive size — 6-foot-6, 343-pounds — and is expected to compete for the starting job at left guard, especially if Bradley Bozeman moves to the center position.
For now, Cleveland is still getting acclimated to his new surroundings.
“I think that’s way too far ahead into the future to look at," Cleveland said about his role as a rookie. "I’m really focused on today and getting the playbook down and kind of understanding how these new guys work being here in rookie camp. It’s a bunch of new guys. We’re all seeing this playbook for the first or second time. So, right now, I'm really and truly just focused on getting in sync with these new guys and learning this playbook.
"You can’t go play fast until you know what you’re doing. I think that’s definitely step one – is just making sure you get that playbook down-pat. That’s really what I’m worried about right now. [I’m] not really thinking ahead to fall [training] camp and that starting job. Obviously, that’s the goal for this year, but that can’t happen until I get the playbook down and learn my assignments.”
Despite his size, Cleveland had an impressive Pro Day, running a 4.85 in the 40-yard dash.
Last season. Cleveland was named a second‐team All‐America by The Athletic and made the Third Team for the Associated Press. He started at right guard in all nine regular‐season games and was selected SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week — the third time of his career winning the award.
Cleveland is confident Baltimore was the perfect landing spot for him in the NFL.
"I think that’s something they pride themselves on here, is playing physical downhill, being able to run the ball, give a relentless effort on every single play," he said. "Just giving everything that you’ve got for the team. I don’t consider myself to be a selfish player. I do what I can for the team to the best of my ability. I think that’s what it means to, ‘Play Like a Raven,’ is just to go out there and give everything you’ve got for the team.”