SCOTT SLANT: Cleveland high on the Vikings’ list

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

There’s a lot of positive pub out there regarding Ezra Cleveland’s second-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend. Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was prepared to trade up to get Cleveland. But he didn’t have to, getting “the guy they wanted all along” with the No. 58 overall pick. So where will Minnesota play the former Boise State star? Craig says he could even start at left tackle, moving veteran Riley Reiff inside to guard. But according to the Vikings staff, Cleveland also has “guard flexibility” and can play right tackle, which would allow the Vikings to move Brian O’Neill, their second-round pick in 2018, to left tackle as early as this season. Cleveland told Craig that the Vikings, as a zone-blocking team like Boise State, is a good fit.

IN WEAVER’S CORNER

Count ProFootballFocus.com among those who are surprised Curtis Weaver dropped to the fifth round. PFF calls him one of the top steals in the 2020 NFL Draft. This from PFF: “The fact that Weaver, a first-round product in our eyes, slipped this far in the draft is quite remarkable. He’s not an explosive athlete off the edge, but he doesn’t have to be with his elite power and bend. Over the last two years at Boise State, Weaver produced the highest win rate in college football by over three percentage points. His pass-rushing grade has eclipsed 92.0 in each of the last two seasons and ranked top-five in the country.”

FOURTH ROUND, ANYONE?

One more look at Boise State draft history after the fourth round passed Weaver by on Saturday. It’s an oddity: there have been 67 Broncos drafted all-time, and only one has ever been picked in the fourth round. And that was way back in 1982, when Boise High grad and strong safety extraordinaire Rick Woods was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers. You’ll see in the Boise State media guide that quarterback Ryan Finley was taken in the fourth round last year, but I don’t count Finley, since he played most of his career at North Carolina State. So this gives me an excuse to talk about Woods, a homegrown talent known as the “Riverboat Gambler” for his daring punt returns. He parlayed his fourth-round pick into a six-year NFL career—five seasons with the Steelers and one with Tampa Bay.

FINLEY KNEW THIS WAS COMING

Finley’s future with Cincinnati depends upon Andy Dalton’s future with Cincinnati. Incredibly, Dalton is still a Bengal after a tumultuous 2019 season. The former TCU Horned Frog was benched following an 0-8 start last fall in favor of Finley, who gave way to Dalton again after going 0-3 in three starts with 474 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Would Cincy really keep Dalton around—and would Dalton stay anyway—now that No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow is the guy? You wouldn’t think so. Finley can harbor hope that he’ll be Burrow’s backup next season.

0-FOR-2 WITH THE BOOKER-BROWNS

Depth was looking up at the linebacker position for Boise State this year. But it takes a bit of a hit with Josh Booker-Brown having entered the transfer portal. Booker-Brown has already been removed from the Broncos roster. He committed to Boise State less than 11 months ago out of Pearl River Community College in Mississippi and arrived late in fall camp after getting his academic house in order. Booker-Brown ended up being Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year while redshirting last fall. His brother, Nick, committed to the Broncos last September but reneged after early signing day in December and signed with North Carolina State.

MORE BEAVER THAN VANDAL, LUTON IS NOW A JAG

There were no Idaho prospects drafted over the weekend, but a former Vandal was. Jake Luton, who transferred to Oregon State after the 2015 season, was taken in the sixth round by Jacksonville. Luton was facing another season behind Matt Linehan in Moscow. But imagine what Idaho might have been like in 2017 and 2018 had Luton been the quarterback. He threw for 5,200 yards and 42 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in three seasons with the Beavers. Bruce Feldman of TheAthletic.com likes the Jaguars’ pick. “He has a good arm and makes really smart decisions,” writes Feldman. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he became a starting quarterback in the NFL.”

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…we’re payroll, we’re risk, we’re HR, we’re business!

April 28, 2007: Gerald Alexander kicks off the largest NFL Draft class yet in Boise State history when he’s selected in the second round (61st overall) by the Detroit Lions, then the fourth-highest pick ever out of BSU. The Lions even traded up to get the star safety. The following day, wide receiver Legedu Naanee would go to the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round, linebacker Korey Hall to the Green Bay Packers in the sixth, and tight end Derek Schouman to the Buffalo Bills in the seventh. Hall and Schouman were both drafted as fullbacks. After all that, though, quarterback Jared Zabransky went undrafted.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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