Ben Cleveland ranked No. 6 interior OL for 2021 NFL Draft class

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Ben Cleveland ranked No. 6 interior OL for 2021 NFL Draft class

Ben Cleveland (74)
Ben Cleveland (74)

The Georgia Bulldogs will look to improve their offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken in 2020, and one network says that the program can do so with one of the best at his position in the SEC.

Pro Football Focus recently ranked the best college interior offensive linemen in regards to the 2021 NFL Draft. PFF ranks redshirt senior Ben Cleveland at No. 6 in the country behind Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis, Tennessee’s Trey Smith, Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum, USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker and Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey.

Cleveland may very well be the most powerful returning interior offensive lineman in college football. He was ranked 20th on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List and is said to be a serious contender to break the combine record of 49 bench reps. Unsurprisingly, it’s rare to see Cleveland moved backward on tape. It’s not simply his upper body that’s strong, but he also has a thick lower half on his 335-pound frame.

The problem is that we’ve only seen 475, 208 and 361 snaps from him in the past three seasons, respectively, due to numerous injuries and off-field issues. He’s also not nearly as smooth as any of the guys above him on this list and is far more of a phone-booth player. Still, he’s got a devastating first punch that can make up for those agility concerns in pass protection.

2020 Outlook

Academic issues have caused Cleveland to miss time in the past, and he can’t have that be the case again in 2020 if he expects to be drafted highly. The tools are there, but we need to see them for a full season — or at least something close to it.

Ben Cleveland (74) - Georgia vs. Missouri 2019 - November 09, 2019 - Second Quarter
Ben Cleveland (74) – Georgia vs. Missouri 2019 – November 09, 2019 – Second Quarter

Cleveland has started 16 games at right guard and that’s where he started the last five games of the 2017 season at, those include the SEC Championship, Rose Bowl, and National Championship game. Cleveland began the 2018 season as a starter, and held the spot for four games before he fractured a bone in his left leg, which left him limited for the rest of the season.

He returns for his final season after missing the Sugar Bowl due to academic issues. He played in 13 games in 2019 with all of them being at right guard. He started against Arkansas State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech and LSU. He was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his efforts against Missouri.

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.