If any person doubts that rookie Ben Cleveland would possibly get started straight away at the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line, they must step within his circle of relatives’s kitchen in Tokoa, Georgia.
Marks at the wall are the place Cleveland would stand and his mom would take a pencil and ruler to line the highest of his head. One reads: Ben 6′ 2″ – He was 13.
You quickly learn that nothing has been too big for Paul Bunyan of the Deep South, Cleveland, whose massive beard is as huge as his stories.
Growing up, it was easy to remember his shoe size as it matched his age for most of his teenage years. Their cowboy boots are a size 17 these days, extra wide.
At the dinner table, he ate half a dozen double cheeseburgers at a time. As a teenager, he was known to eat two whole pizzas during the hours after football practice and before going to bed.
When he was fishing at age 11, Cleveland caught an 85-pound stingray at Myrtle Beach. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt on the pier, so he cut the line and let him swim.
As a highschool freshman, Cleveland was once sidelined by way of his trainer, who advised him that Florida had introduced him a scholarship. Cleveland had by no means even noticed a faculty football game as a result of fall is looking season.
Now, with Cleveland wrapping up its first NFL minicamp, the perception of Lamar Jackson being thought to be the favourite to begin at entrance left guard may also be overwhelming. But he adheres to a philosophy that’s not unexpected to any person with the Big Country nickname.
Cleveland stated in his Southern drawl, “I’m a firm believer that if you sit here and try to control every tiny little aspect of what can happen, you create tension, and all that.” Some get stacked on most sensible of one another.” “I’m simply going to turn up and do the whole thing in my energy to ensure it occurs the precise method. That’s all I will be able to keep an eye on, in order that’s truly all I will be able to focal point on and I will be able to concern.”
No one who went up against Cleveland would call him a laid-back. While playing under-14 baseball, he dismissed the catcher in a home-plate collision. Cleveland was kicked out of the tournament.
It was around that time that Cleveland felt he was not going to follow the same path as his older brother, Ryan, who finished in the top 10 in a career home run at Georgia Southern.
“We truly grew up as a baseball circle of relatives,” said his father, Derek. “Both boys performed football at a tender age, however it was once yet one more factor to stay them in form for the baseball season. That was once our complete mindset, after which Ben simply were given somewhat bit larger and somewhat more potent. It needed to be “
Cleveland was raised in a small northeastern Georgia town that is more known for a waterfall—it’s 28 feet higher than Niagara Falls—than the production of professional athletes. The last player from the city before Cleveland to be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft was five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Pat Swilling in 1986.
Cleveland’s father is a production manager for a company that makes bathroom partitions. His mother, Andrea, is a receptionist in a doctor’s office.
By the time Cleveland was 2 years old, his father had taught him how to fish and hunt. His son was not going to spend hours playing Madden.
“For me, simply sitting round taking part in video video games is a waste of time,” Derek said. “When they’d time, I sought after them to be out of doors as an alternative of sitting in entrance of the TV and playing what God has given them or no matter they’d with their arms.”
When it comes to bragging rights, Ben is the best at duck hunting. His father is a top deer hunting. Fishing is considered a toss-up.
Last year, Ben shot his biggest deer at a friend’s farm. He believes it was a 10-point buck and sent it to a taxidermist.
“I’m going to throw him at the wall and put a gorgeous image subsequent to him, I assume,” Cleveland said.
The hunt became a time of bonding for the Cleveland family. With two growing boys, he had to buy five gallons of milk and three loaves of bread every week. There was a time when grocery bills totaled $400 or $500.
“It was once loopy,” Derek said. “And that is one of the most causes we hunted and fished the best way we did. It was once to stay the freezer complete and check out to complement one of the vital prices in different places, as it were given dear.”
strength and agility
Cleveland knows how to make an immediate impact, becoming the first freshman in more than three decades to start on the offensive line at Stephens County High School. He averaged six pancake blocks in a game in his first season and increased it to two points by his sophomore year.
But his favourite play got here at the defence. As a junior, he transformed a strip sack right into a 25-yard fumble go back for a landing. Cleveland picked up the ball and obstructed the quarterback ahead of achieving the top box for a late-game ranking.
“I went and lay on the sidelines,” Cleveland stated. “I told the coach, ‘I’m done.’ I just sat on the sidelines and watched the rest of the game from there.”
At the University of Georgia, Cleveland no longer simplest fired the defensive lineman off the ball in working video games, however he was once additionally a very good go defender. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he allowed a complete of 4 pressures on 473 blocks over the last two seasons (22 video games), which is the most efficient luck price (99.2%) by way of an excellent guard within the SEC. Few linemen had been extra disciplined than Cleveland, who did not ranking a penalty in 520 snaps closing season.
At 6-foot-6,357 kilos, Cleveland has the energy to check his measurement. In the burden room, he can squat 700 kilos, and his private absolute best within the bench press is 545 kilos. The Georgia energy trainer posted a video on Twitter of Cleveland acting six reps of a 160-pound dumbbell press with one arm.
What the scouts truly did was once his velocity. A shirtless Cleveland ran a 40-yard sprint in 4.97 seconds, which is the kind of motion Baltimore used when his guards pull and run zone-scheme blocks.
Ravens trainer John Harbaugh stated, “I think we have a well-defined and clear understanding of what offense we want to commit. He fits.” “He’s a big, strong, powerful guy who loves to annoy people, and that’s how we want to play.”
the wait is over
In this 12 months’s NFL draft, the Ravens didn’t have a second-round select. So Baltimore needed to wait 62 choices on 2 days — 4 hours, 11 mins — ahead of deciding on Cleveland.
The fact was once that the crows have been ready for much longer than that to catch him.
“John’s been talking about Cleveland for two months, actually,” Ravens common supervisor Eric DeCosta stated after the usage of the quantity 94 total select on Cleveland. So it was once a reduction for me to if truth be told see him to be had after we selected to. It was once John’s selection.”
Harbaugh said, “I’m off your again now.”
Harbaugh admitted that he wanted Team Cleveland to trade DeCosta to be sure.
“Ben was once any person we truly sought after to get into,” Harbaugh said. “I do know I used to be frightened Nelly there for some time, [but] We hung on tight and we were given our boy. “
The fan club for Cleveland has grown. When the Ravens posted a video of Cleveland at the rookie minicamp, former WWE Champion Braun Strowman tweeted: “U fam?”
Cleveland responded: “We break up someplace round start, I’m beautiful positive.”
Cleveland is now battling Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers for Baltimore’s opening left guard job. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman spoke about Cleveland’s physical presence and how he would help the Ravens play a “big-boy ball up entrance.”
“He was once the most efficient run-blocker on this 12 months’s draft,” said Roman. Really excited about it.”