Ravens G Ben Cleveland Seeing Time At Tackle

We’ve covered the situation surrounding the Ravens’ offensive line position battles in depth already, but with three starting positions alongside center Tyler Linderbaum and left tackle Ronnie Stanley completely open for competition, the updates are sure to continue rolling in. Our most recent update highlights a disappointing development for a perceived favorite to take a starting job.

According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, three of the players competing for starting roles this offseason saw time at both guard and tackle during the team’s organized team activities. Daniel Faalele, newcomer Josh Jones, and Ben Cleveland are the three big men who have shuffled around on the line this spring.

Faalele is a massive human (listed at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds) who has one start in 32 game appearances over his first two years in the league. He has struggled to be effective as a backup tackle, sometimes filling in for the oft-injured Stanley. Moving Faalele inside could make an intimidating run defense even more formidable. Jones was brought in especially because of his versatility on the line, so his shuffling around is no surprise. If Jones doesn’t earn a starting job, he could be another valuable sixth man like the Ravens already have in Patrick Mekari.

Hearing that Cleveland is working outside of his natural guard position is not a great sign. A massive human in his own right (6-foot-6, 370 pounds), the former third-round pick out of Georgia has started seven of 37 game appearances in his three years with the Ravens but has never displayed a true starting ability.

While some viewed him as an early favorite to fill one of the open starting jobs at guard in 2024, Zrebiec now reports that Cleveland’s stock is trending down after he failed to get the first-team snaps that other candidates for the starting jobs got in OTAs. Seemingly falling behind Andrew Vorhees, Malaesala Aumavae-Laula, Jones, Mekari, and potentially even Faalele, Cleveland is now getting shifted out for looks at tackle.

Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, if Cleveland is going to make an impact, it’s now or never. If Cleveland can’t find a way to contribute in 2024, it’s going to be difficult to justify re-signing the former SEC standout. Decision-makers in Baltimore insist that Cleveland is still in the mix for the guard jobs, and perhaps they’re just trying different methods of motivation to pump Cleveland up for training camp, but trying him out at tackle sends an interesting message.

At tackle, Cleveland won’t likely be in contention for the starting job over second-round selection Roger Rosengarten out of Washington. Even if Rosengarten fails to earn the starting job, Mekari and Jones both have ample starting experience over Cleveland. Cleveland will need to utilize the next two and a half months to prove he’s worthy of not only a pivotal role this year but also a second contract in the future.

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