MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings added to their offensive line depth with the No. 58 pick in the NFL Draft Friday night.
The Vikings selected Ezra Cleveland, an offensive tackle out of Boise State. The pick ends any speculation that General Manager Rick Spielman would use extra draft picks acquired Thursday night in a potential trade with the Washington Redskins to acquire offensive lineman Trent Williams.
Jamaal Stephenson, the Vikings' director of college scouting, said they've had their eye on Cleveland for a long time. Stephenson went to go watch him play in person against Fresno State last year.
"The way we looked at Ezra, he’s a guy who started 40 games in college. He’s mature, he’s tough, he’s a grinder. He loves football. We think he’s a guy who’s going to come in and be able to help us right away," Stephenson said.
Spielman was happy to see him land with the Vikings when they were on the clock with the No. 58 pick. He's an athletic lineman that should fit well in their zone blocking scheme.
"Very excited about Ezra Cleveland falling to us in the second round. He fits everything we’re looking for from a schematic standpoint," Spielman said.
He was so excited to get the call Friday night that when the phone rang, he thought it was the L.A. Rams, the team picking in front of the Vikings, at first. It took home a few seconds to realize it was Spielman.
"I absolutely can’t wait for this opportunity. Sitting there, I really wanted the Vikings to draft me. I like the cold weather better than the warm weather. I think all the factors were pointing to me going there," Cleveland said via Zoom Friday night.
Cleveland is 6-6, 311 pounds and ran a 4.93 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and did 30 reps on the bench press. He's earned First Team All-Mountain West Conference honors in each of the last two seasons with the Broncos. He will be reunited with former teammate and current Vikings No. 2 running back Alexander Mattison.
"I was screaming pretty loudly. The neighbors probably heard me. I was jumping up, super excited. I was super proud of him, just for this moment. We’re reunited and it feels amazing. If I had one word to tag on him, it would probably be monster," Mattison said Friday night via Zoom.
Vikings take Mississippi State DB Cameron Dantzler with 89th pick
The Vikings took Cameron Dantzler, a defensive back out of Mississippi State, with the No. 89 pick in the third round Friday night. His first collegiate interception came off Lamar Jackson, and he started 13 games as a redshirt sophomore with 43 tackles, two for a loss, two interceptions and nine pass break-ups.
Dantzler started nine games this past season, making 40 tackles and tying for the team lead with two interceptions. He added eight pass break-ups and had two tackles for a loss.
It’s more depth for the defensive backfield as he joins Jeff Gladney, who the Vikings picked late in the first round Thursday night. The now rookies will soon get to experience playing in a Mike Zimmer defense.
"He likes his cornerbacks big, fast and nasty so I just want to do whatever I can to contribute to the team and help bring a Super Bowl to our organization," Dantzler said.
Vikings trade 105th pick to Saints for 4 draft picks
As it turns out, taking Cameron Dantzler at No. 89 was the final pick Friday night for the Vikings. Rick Spielman traded the 105th pick to the New Orleans Saints for picks in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
"We had probably five or six calls at that 105 spot. It was very busy, we were working with five different teams," Spielman said. "We just felt that the New Orleans situation gave us an opportunity that we felt was the best option that we were offered when we were on the clock."
The Vikings are slated to have 13 draft selections on Saturday. Barring trades, they’ll have three selections in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, and have four picks in the seventh round.