No. 2 Vikings player the Jaguars should target before the deadline: Ezra Cleveland, LG
Even before the regular season started, left guard was deemed one of the Jaguars' biggest needs. However, the team's brass opted not to address the position because they were confident Ben Bartch would be ready for the opener.
Bartch dislocated his knee last year and spent the offseason recovering. Although he was in the starting lineup in Week 1, he struggled so badly that the Jags benched him in favor of Tyler Shatley and later Walker Little. Maybe Bartch wasn't fully healthy or perhaps he needed more time to shake off the rust. But regardless of the reason, Jacksonville must bolster the left guard position.
As noted before, Little, who moved from left tackle to guard, was given the nod in Week 5 but he suffered an MCL sprain and will miss several games. The Jags could go back to Shatley but they could also give the Vikings a call about Ezra Cleveland.
Cleveland, a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, had a hard time adjusting as a rookie but has turned the corner in 2023. So far, he's only given up one sack, and trading him would allow the Vikings to plug Dalton Risner in at left guard.
The fact that Cleveland is set to become a free agent in 2024 could incentivize Minnesota to trade him before the deadline and get something in return for him, maybe a fifth-round pick.