It turns out the predictions that had Ezra Cleveland going to the Minnesota Vikings were right.
It just took a little later than most thought.
Boise State’s star left tackle was selected by the Vikings in the second round of the NFL Draft at No. 58 overall Friday night.
Many mock drafts had Minnesota taking Cleveland at No. 25 in the first round Thursday night, but he slid all the way to them in the bottom of the second round.
“When I got the call it was absolutely unbelievable,” Cleveland told the Idaho Press late Friday night. “I can’t describe the emotions in the room. It was everything I dreamed it would be. I’ve wanted to play in the NFL forever so to finally have this happen, it’s unbelievable. It hasn’t fully hit me yet. But when it does I know I’m going to freak out.”
Cleveland is the third-highest offensive line draft pick in Boise State history behind only Ryan Clady (No. 12 overall, 2008) and Daryn Colledge (No. 47, 2006). Those two went on to make more than $75 million in their NFL careers.
As a kid Cleveland would dream with his mom about playing in the NFL, telling her he hoped to one day see somebody walking down the road wearing a jersey with his name and number on it. There figure to be plenty of people in Minnesota wearing his jersey soon.
Minnesota badly needed offensive line help, and it’s possible Cleveland could compete for a starting spot as a rookie.
"He’s a tough guy who’s athletic," Minnesota director of scouting Jamaal Stephenson told reporters. "We think he’s a guy who’s going to be able to come in and help us right away.”
Cleveland was the fifth-best offensive tackle entering the draft according to ESPN, but wasn’t one of the six tackles picked in Thursday night’s first round.
And he had to wait for two more hours and 26 more picks Friday night before his dream finally became a reality.
“I said before the draft it didn’t matter where my name got called, I just needed a chance,” Cleveland said. “It didn’t matter where I got picked. Unfortunately the first round passed, but fortunately I still got picked by the Vikings. I can’t wait to get there and get started and show them what I can do.”
He etched his name into Boise State history when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stepped in front of the camera and announced, “With the 58th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select, Ezra Cleveland, tackle, Boise State.”
The announcement set off a celebration inside Cleveland’s house in Boise, where a small family gathering was held. With a Boise State flag hanging in the background and his former offensive line coach Brad Bedell in the room, Cleveland hugged his mom Shawna as the group cheered in celebration.
An NFL camera placed inside his home documented the moment for all to see on national television.
“Being able to share the moment with everyone was crazy,” Cleveland said.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Cleveland was a first team All-Mountain West pick in both 2018 and 2019 for the Broncos. The three-year starter made 40 career starts before electing to skip his senior year and enter the draft.
He’ll be reunited in Minnesota with former Boise State running back Alexander Mattison, who was a third-round pick by the Vikings in the 2019 draft.
"We were talking all day yesterday hoping we'd take him and since it didn't happen, we purposely talked very little today so we didn't mess it up," Mattison told the Idaho Press. "We had our fingers crossed the whole time because we knew the staff thought highly of him.
"I'm just super excited to be back with my brother. Words can't explain how pumped I am to be teammates again. That's my brother for life and now we're teammates again. I can't wait."
It's the 11th consecutive year that Boise State has had at least one player drafted. They are also tied with Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Penn State and LSU for having an early entrant picked in each of the last seven years.
Boise State's Curtis Weaver was not selected Friday night in the second or third round.