In the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, I’ve been hearing a lot about Ravens rookie safety Ben Cleveland’s offseason. The most common question has been, “How did he get so big?” Before I begin, let me say that I don’t know a single person who would describe Ben Cleveland as “big.” In fact, I’ve heard him referred to as “chiseled,” “striking,” and even “gay,” which for those of you who aren’t familiar with Baltimore’s football culture, is a derogatory term for someone who is very attractive. But here’s the thing: Cleveland is not small. During his senior season at Oklahoma, Cleveland weighed just 196 pounds. He was listed at 6’1″ tall,

This past weekend, the Ravens beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Although his team was unsuccessful in winning the big game, the team’s number one draft pick Ben Cleveland was a key part of the Ravens’ offseason success. Between his strength and conditioning regimen, mental preparation, and relentless practice, Ben has been training his body to play football at the next level for years now.

NFL players don’t live ordinary lives. After all, they are dealing with a level of physical and mental stress that few of us can imagine. And in the case of Baltimore Ravens rookie Ben Cleveland, the process of becoming a professional football player began when Ray Lewis was still running backs in the way for a living.

Whether it’s eating cheeseburgers or doing serious squats, the powerful defender has done everything he can to prepare himself to dominate the defense for years to come. And if Cleveland translates its success in college to the NFL, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense could play a key role in 2021.

Ben Cleveland will continue his Georgia success in Baltimore

Georgia Bulldogs’ Ben Cleveland stands on the sidelines during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Ravens may have given away one of the most impressive offensive linemen in the NFL this season, but they also brought in talented quarterback Ben Cleveland. Baltimore selected the 2020 All-SEC with the No. 94 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Given his impressive physique and game film, it’s easy to see why Cleveland heard his name on the second day of the draft.

At 5-foot-7 and 357 pounds, the native of Toccoa, Hawaii, hasn’t gone far from home to play college football. Cleveland played the last five years in Athens for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. After taking a break in his freshman year, he worked hard at the right guard position in 2017-19.

Fortunately for Cleveland, he saved his best season for last.

The powerful blocker was selected to the second All-American team by The Athletic for his consistent play during Georgia’s nine-game season. His ability to move through space was noted on film, especially in the racing game. Cleveland’s combination of size and athletic ability (he ran a 40-yard dash of 4.97) clearly enticed the Ravens to make a valuable pick to secure his services. At 22 years old, he already has an NFL-caliber frame. And while he has a bright future in Baltimore, he wouldn’t have made it in Cleveland without years of hard work and an incredible amount of calories.

Eating double cheeseburgers and doing squats at 700 pounds helped the Ravens rookie prepare his body for the rigors of the NFL

Cleveland was a prized recruit at Stevens County High School and was an early standout among his peers. At 13, he was six feet tall.

Needless to say, genetics helped prepare him for his future success on the football field. But it took Cleveland many grueling hours in the gym and a lot of family dinners to become the athlete he is today.

Jamison Hensley of ESPN explained how the promising young player put in the time, energy and effort to get on the path to the NFL. Cleveland once ate half a dozen double cheeseburgers in one sitting, and he was known to eat up to two pizzas in the hours after football practice and before he went to bed.

His diet gave him the strength and power to make violent blocks as a high school student. And when he joined the Bulldogs, he had the chance to hone those attributes by training with other top athletes. Cleveland can do a 700-pound squat. Additionally, his max bench press of 545 pounds shows he has the power to dominate defenders.

In the end, the Ravens couldn’t get enough of his looks and potential.

John [Harbaugh] has been talking about Cleveland for about two months, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said after selecting the talented quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. So it was a relief to me when we saw him in stock at the markup. It was John’s decision.

Can Cleveland and Co. Keep Lamar Jackson out of the game for the 2021 season?

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta over Ben Cleveland (6-6, 343 pounds): If you’ve seen Game of Thrones, it looks like The Mountain.

Let’s see if he can help the Ravens become the King of the

– Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) May 1, 2021

The Ravens’ coaching staff probably won’t tell Cleveland to eat double cheeseburgers after practice. But maybe it’s better to let the boorish guard do his thing. After all, it brought him here, didn’t it?

With access to top nutritionists and strength and conditioning trainers, Cleveland has the opportunity to work on his weaknesses (and he doesn’t have many) and develop even more strength, power and flexibility. Anything he can do to improve his physical profile, which already looks more than capable of taking care of business in the trenches, will only benefit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense in the long run.

While not the most glamorous position, Cleveland plays an important role. Baltimore uses a run-based offense that relies on the constant movement of the offensive line. The former Bulldog will have to show he can perform a variety of blocking duties, including pulling and blocks in space. If the Ravens have problems on the offensive line, it will be difficult for Jackson and the talented running back tandem of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

Cleveland is clearly struggling to play at a high level as a rookie, but he certainly has the attributes to get the job done. And if he can become even half the player that former right guard Marshall Janda was, the Ravens are in good hands for the next few years.

COMPARED TO: Cam Newton reveals the brutal truth about his career-changing failure Part of me was just a wounded dog

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