The Jacksonville Jaguars are on a bye week, so we thought we’d pivot our usual “5 Questions with the enemy” column into a Q&A with our Minnesota Vikings sister site to learn more about new Jags guard Ezra Cleveland.
What’s the feeling up north about Cleveland leaving the team? Are fans disappointed in any way, or was he widely viewed as an expendable player?
I think a lot of people were pretty surprised by Cleveland being dealt. He had started 43 straight games for the Vikings prior to missing the last one with a foot injury. He had been replaced by Dalton Risner, who the Vikings signed in free agency in the early part of the season and Risner has done a pretty solid job so far, which the front office apparently thought made Cleveland more expendable than he might have been otherwise. Most people seem to be a little unhappy with the deal because it inhibits the Vikings’ depth up front, because now if Risner or Ed Ingram get hurt the Vikings don’t really have much behind them as far as potential replacements. Overall, I think more people are unhappy with the trade than are happy with it.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Cleveland’s game?
Cleveland was a left tackle in college but has played exclusively at left guard for the Vikings since he was drafted. There were rumblings that he wasn’t going to re-sign with Minnesota this offseason because he wants an opportunity to play tackle and he wasn’t going to get that in Minnesota with Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill entrenched in those spots. If a team needed to, they could probably put him out there at tackle, which gives him a bit of versatility. He’s a pretty solid athlete as well. As far as weaknesses, he can still get pushed around a bit by bigger guys on the inside and his play strength isn’t the greatest, but he can get out in space if necessary.
How would you grade the trade for each team?
I think I’d give the trade a “B” grade for the Jaguars, as they got a solid offensive lineman for a discount price. For the Vikings, I’d lean more towards a “C” or a “C-.” They got something for a guy that they were probably going to lose this offseason anyway, but it feels like they took a little less than what a lineman with Cleveland’s pedigree should have fetched.
Thanks again to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions!
What are your thoughts on the Ezra Cleveland deal, Jaguars fans?