It’s Very Possible Ezra Cleveland Never Plays for Vikings Again

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
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Ezra Cleveland has been the Minnesota Vikings starting left guard for the last three seasons and, before that, he was their starting right guard, as a rookie. The 25-year-old Cleveland still thinks he can play tackle too, as he did at an all-conference level for three years at Boise State.

Ezra Cleveland questionable (more like doubtful) for Sunday

But last week, in the Vikings’ underdog victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Ezra was on the sidelines with a foot injury. Entering this weekend, he’s listed as questionable vs the Green Bay Packers, as well. That designation seems optimistic, though, if you heard or watched head coach Kevin O’Connell give the update on Cleveland at Friday’s press conference.

“Yeah, [Ezra Cleveland]’s gotten some reps in there and we are just trying to gauge, right now, where he is at, from a standpoint of being able to be 100% Sunday at noon. Dalton [Risner] has had a good week as well, in prep. Regardless of kinda how it works out, with the active roster and things, will be just determined on what we think is best, based upon Ezra’s, you know, feelings Sunday morning.”

Kevin O’Connell

Later in his session with media members, O’Connell was asked if there is a chance Ed Ingram could get usurped at right guard, if both Dalton Risner and Ezra Cleveland are ready to go on Sunday. He put that conversation to rest by saying the only guard competition at TCO Performance Center is on left side, between Risner and Cleveland.

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By the sounds of it, however, that competition is unlikely to exist this week, leading up to their matchup on Sunday in Green Bay, given Ezra looks more doubtful than questionable, entering the weekend.

Could Cleveland’s career with Minnesota Vikings be over?

And if we look beyond Sunday, Ezra Cleveland’s status with the Minnesota Vikings looks even more questionable than his designation for this week. Not because of his foot injury, but because of the October 31 trade deadline.

For months (if not years), all signs have pointed to Cleveland eventually leaving Minnesota in free agency, this offseason. And now, with Dalton Risner on the roster and seemingly the same starting-caliber guard as he was for the first four years of his career in Denver, the Vikings are likely shopping their “injured” left guard, as I type this blog.

And there’s no reason they should have issues finding a taker for one of the most promising young linemen in football. In theory, there are 64 starting offensive guards in the NFL and Cleveland’s PFF grades all rank in the top 25% of the league.

Ezra ClevelandGrade(G) Rank
PFF OVR73.812th
PFF PBLK72.813th
PFF RBLK72.315th

Trading Cleveland shouldn’t be a problem

If a contract extension can be agreed upon with his new team, before a trade is completed, Ezra should easily bring back day-two draft capital, in return. So, if the Vikings believe they are the same team with Dalton Risner at left guard, as they are with Ezra Cleveland playing there… then it only makes sense they ship Cleveland out if they can get a proper return.

So, should Ezra not play Sunday in Green Bay, it’s very possible we’ve seen him in a horned helmet for the last time.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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