Here’s What the Vikings Got in the Ezra Cleveland Trade

Vikings TE Gets
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Both trade deadlines under the watch of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah were tumultuous periods for Vikings fans. In 2022, he acquired tight end T.J. Hockenson in a rare in-divison trade. The pass-catcher has been a fantastic addition. One year later, Joshua Dobbs was added to the roster after Kirk Cousins’ season-ending injury. While ultimately fading, Dobbs would lead the organization to some miraculous and exciting victories.

Here’s What the Vikings Got in the Ezra Cleveland Trade

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The quarterback wasn’t his only move in 2023, as he also shipped left guard Ezra Cleveland to Jacksonville. Cleveland had been a solid guard for the fourth season but was obviously not part of the team’s long-term plans. Because Dalton Risner was a fine replacement, and Minnesota wasn’t willing to sign Cleveland to a contract extension a few months later, trading him for some extra draft capital made sense.

Cleveland eventually signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars for a base value of $24 million. In four seasons with the Vikings, the former second-rounder appeared in 53 games (49 starts). In return for the lineman, Jacksonville sent Carolina’s 2024 sixth-round draft choice they acquired in a trade for receiver Laviska Shenault.

It was the first pick of the sixth round, pick 177. Adofo-Mensah used it to select Oklahoma’s offensive tackle, Walter Rouse.

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Rouse was a four-year starter at Stanford before transferring to Oklahoma for one season. At age 23, with five years of starting at left tackle, he was one of the most experienced players in the draft. Since the Vikings moved former backup tackle Blake Brandel to guard and Oli Udoh’s contract expired, there was a sneaky need for a backup offensive tackle behind Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. Veteran presence David Quessenberry is also employed by Minnesota. He has primarily experience at right tackle.

Solid backup tackles are significant to ensure a smooth transition if one of the starters is hurt. Running an offense with a subpar left tackle is nearly impossible. It would be a good investment if Rouse could be Darrisaw’s backup for four seasons until his contract expires.

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In the 2023 season, Rouse only allowed six QB pressures, ranking him second among tackles in FBS football with at least 250 pass-blocking snaps, behind only fifth-overall pick Joe Alt. His PFF pass-block efficiency ranked him at the top of FBS football, as Alt didn’t log as many snaps as Rouse.

Lance Zierlein ( wrote about the left tackle in his pre-draft analysis:

Rouse possesses the size and intelligence coaches like, and he might be able to continue improving if he can get stronger and prove he can play on the right side as well. He’s an average athlete with average bend, and that will show up in his lack of consistent anchor and in-line drive. However, that should not be oversold, as he tends to anchor enough and maintain a level of stickiness as a run blocker, even when it looks a little disheveled. Rouse has played almost exclusively as a left tackle but might be in consideration as a solid swing tackle prospect with some upside.

Lance Zierlein

Sixth-rounders aren’t guaranteed to make the 53-man roster, but Rouse has a decent chance. The remaining contenders for the fourth OT spot are undrafted rookies Jeremy Flax and Spencer Rolland.

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The Vikings traded a starting lineman for a backup, but the savings of roughly $7.5 million per season should not be forgotten in the calculation. Brandel’s performance will directly influence how the trade will be analyzed in the future.

Rouse will have no chance to enter the starting lineup at left tackle as Darrisaw is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but depth is important as the star tackle missed games in each of his three seasons in the NFL.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt