2020 NFL Draft | Ezra Cleveland Crushed the Combine


It might be a few weeks later but it’s still worth noting that Ezra Cleveland crushed the NFL Scouting Combine. The 2020 NFL Draft prospect has been rumored for the first round ever since and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him land somewhere in the back end of the first round. Teams like the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks should certainly consider the talented offensive lineman from Boise State.

Now, you’re probably asking the question, who is Cleveland? Maybe you’ve heard of him or maybe you haven’t. Before coming to Boise State, he was a three-star recruit out of Bethel High School in Spanaway, Washington. There were offers to Air Force, Washington State and a few others but Cleveland decided on Boise State.

Flash forward through his Broncos career and you get a 40-game starter at left tackle. Throughout that time, he earned first-team All-MWC honors twice and has been clearly on the radar of NFL teams since becoming a starter during the 2017 season. After blowing up the Combine with 30 reps in the bench press and a 40-yard dash time of 4.93 seconds, he has first round potential for the 2020 NFL Draft. Let’s jump to the tape and see exactly what he brings to the table!

Climb to the second level

As we all know, the game of football is won in the trenches but you need to have offensive linemen that can move. Their 40-yard dash time isn’t exactly important but you want to see how they handle themselves in space. Especially when they have to climb the second level. For Cleveland, he does a good job coming in under control and he climb to the second level with ease.

On the play above, you’ll see how he combo blocks with the left guard on the defensive tackle that is aligned as a 4i-technique. After a solid punch that forces the defensive tackle to reposition to A-gap, Cleveland can start his climb towards a linebacker at the second level. He comes in under control and lowers his pad level before making contact. Once he absorbs the contact, he rolls his hips and tries to push the defender down the field or into the dirt. However, he ends up getting tripped up but it’s still a solid rep from the talented offensive lineman.

Pass protection with late anchor

With almost 3,000 offensive snaps in his career, Cleveland has plenty of experience as a run blocker but also in pass protection. This past season, he earned an 82.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus and it’s clear to why he earned such a solid grade. Let’s look at one of his reps against Florida State from earlier in the season.

You can see on the play above how he shows patience with his punch. That’s the first thing that stands out whenever you watch him. He plays with really good patience and will never rush himself into a situation where he’s destined to lose. Through the rep, his punch lands but not having the trap technique developed, he gets stuck having to anchor late. He could have had the rep won with that technique in his repertoire. Regardless, he anchors late and keeps the pocket clean long enough for the quarterback to make a throw downfield.

Great pad level, control and contact

To be a successful offensive lineman, you’ll need to understand how important it is to have consistent pad level. Whether you’re pushing downfield as a run blocker or setting up in pass protection, your pad level has to be consistent or you’ll lose plenty of reps. With that being said, if you don’t make good contact or play with good control, you’ll get embarrassed on the gridiron.

On the play above, Cleveland absorbs a shot from the linebacker. Fortunately, his pad level is low, he keeps his hands inside and he stays under control. Some times, this will happen to an offensive lineman and they panic by setting too far inside or outside and that creates an opening for the defensive player that’s going after the quarterback. In this case, Cleveland keeps the linebacker in front of him and plays with great control to help him keep the quarterback upright.

Playing with patience

Multiple times already, I’ve mentioned you have to play with patience. This allows you to have better control and get a better read on what the defender is doing across from you. More often than not, Cleveland does just that.

On the play above, Cleveland waits for the defensive end that doesn’t show any explosiveness out of his stance. He’s patient through the rep and essentially, waits for the defensive end to make contact with him before even striking his chest plate. By having this patience, it allows him to keep the defender in front of him and it stops any type of pressure coming from the blindside of the quarterback.

Once again, you’ll see the ball snapped and more patience is on display. He waits to strike and once he does, he hits the chest plate of the stand-up edge rusher. In the process, he resets his outside hand and lands it again on the center of the edge rusher. This is really good control and everything is clean from his footwork and hand placement. These types of reps are what makes him such an intriguing prospect and one that has gained plenty of buzz in the top-50 and even first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Final thoughts

It’s no surprise to see Ezra Cleveland getting plenty of hype after the Scouting Combine. When you look at the numbers, his athletic ability is going to be too good to pass on.

While his 40-yard dash time is impressive, his short shuttle and 3-cone drill were just as impressive. It led the way for any offensive lineman in the 2020 NFL Draft and that’s why it’s no surprise to see Cleveland shooting up draft boards. Some of the top athletic profile comparisons for him are Garett Bolles, Joe Thuney and Taylor Lewan. If a team can get that type of production out of him, they’ll be getting a steal, especially where he’s predicted to get picked.

When you put on the tape, it’s clear that he plays with great patience and shows proper technique. He’ll need to develop a more consistent anchor but there’s plenty to work with and it starts with his athleticism. Teams like the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers could consider him in the first round. No matter which team takes him, it seems like a certainty that he’s established himself as a top-50 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

National Scout for Cover 1. Host of Cover 1 | The NFL Draft Podcast. NFL Draft Enthusiast. X's and O's. Heard on ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio.