Lacks elite speed and isn't a guy who has the second gear to simply outpace the safety vertically, but has enough of a stride to get behind defenders once he gets into his route.Looks a bit stiff and leggy as a route runner. Isn't real sharp or explosive when asked to generate separation for himself out of his breaks. Seems to gear down and just glide into his break.
However, displays strong hands and does a nice job snatching the football away from his frame when contested. But at times will let the ball get into his frame and gets lackadaisical with his concentration and will put the football on the ground. Has a savvy about his game when working the short crosser, has a good feel avoiding defenders and settling down to soft spots underneath.
Showcases a willingness as a blocker, isn't overly powerful, but does a nice job using his long arms to get inside on defenders, has strong hands and works hard to stay engaged through the play.
Impression: Is an average athlete with some savvy to his game off the line vs. press and as a route runner. Doesn't have the ability to generate much separation from man coverage, but has caught a lot of balls during his time at Houston and could make a roster as a later round/free agent guy."
After a strong start to his career with the Iowa Hawkeyes, earning Freshman All-Big 10 honors by posting 36 catches for 464 yards, he was dismissed in the spring of 2008 after pleading guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of prescription drugs.
Rather than redshirting at a major program as a transfer in 2008, Cleveland attended Trinity Valley Community College as a sophomore, accumulating 23 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns.
Houston took a chance on his talents in 2009, and was rewarded. Cleveland didn't take long to adjust to Houston's high-flying offense, earning Conference USA Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-conference honors after ranking among the nation's top 10 in receptions and receiving yards per game (104 receptions, 1,214 yards, 14 touchdowns), including 19-241-3 in the team's C-USA Championship Game win over East Carolina.
Cleveland's production dropped as a senior, however, catching 57 balls for 800 yards and six scores while earning honorable-mention all-conference honors. He was also suspended for the Mississippi State contest because of team rules violations, which was uncalled "uncharacteristic" by head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Although his hands are inconsistent, there is little question that Cleveland possess some NFL-caliber physical tools. If scouts believe he can mature and shows better speed than expected in offseason workouts, he may wind up a mid-round selection in April.
Strengths: Shows a good burst off the line of scrimmage. Uses his large frame well to shield away defenders. Used primarily on intermediate throws over the middle of the field, has superb awareness and always seems to find the open holes in the defense. Creates separation when he deciding to be physical at the line. Displays exceptional hand-eye coordination and concentration when catching balls along the sideline. Looks the ball all the way in to a tuck. Uses strong hands while catching the ball in traffic. Shifts down on routes over the middle and finding an open pocket in the defense. Sinks his hips on comeback routes. Uses head fakes well to separate from quicker defenders. Smooth runner who runs with a low base. Effective catching balls on fade routes in the red zone. Very strong runner after the catch. Is not afraid to lower his shoulder to fight for extra yards. Protects the ball well when catching in traffic. Willing downfield blocker for his teammates, very aggressive and will fight hard on blocks until the whistle blows. Team captain in 2010.
Weaknesses: Does not possess great speed. Tends to catch with his body rather than his hands. Does not use his hands aggressively to beat the jam at the line. Hands are inconsistent, as he will lose concentration and struggles to flip his hips to adjust to balls thrown behind him. Takes a false step at the line of scrimmage. Does not have a great pressure step and tries to run around defenders. Tends to round his routes. Shows limited creativity with separation moves. Will not blow by anyone when running with the ball in space. Carries the ball loosely when running after the catch. Missed part of 2010 spring practices due to January surgery to repair a torn right labrum. Suspended in October 2010 for team rules violation. Has shown the propensity to push and shove after the whistle."
Positive: Productive receiver who benefited from the wide-open offense at Houston. Finds the open spot, adjusts to the errant throw, and remains focused. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, makes difficult catches in crowds, and displays good eye/hand coordination. Uses his frame to protect the pass.
Negative: Lazily comes off the line and does not show a burst. One-speed receiver who cannot get separation down the field. Not a sturdy pass catcher.
Analysis: After a tremendous junior campaign, Cleveland was slightly disappointing as a senior and did not live up to expectations. He flashes pass catching skills yet has never put together a consistent game. He has an outside shot to make it is the fifth receiver if he plays at a high level in camp."
Strengths: Had a huge year in 2009, recording over 100 catches, 1200+ yards, and 14 touchdowns. Good agility in and out of his cuts, and will fight to make the catch along the sideline.
Weaknesses: Not a vertical threat down-field. Doesn't have top end speed, and his jumping ability is only average. Academic issues in 2008 kept him out of Iowa, before transferring to Houston.
Projection: Putting him in the 4th round at this point. Combine numbers will be extremely telling for this player. Need to confirm his speed, and see how he interviews with team personnel."
It was with Houston that Cleveland came onto the national scene. In a pass happy offense, Cleveland emerged as the team's go-to-receiver in 2009 and caught a team high 104 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns. And he put up those numbers despite missing two games late in the year with an ankle injury. Cleveland and Houston had high expectations heading into 2010, but an injury to quarterback Case Keenum and backup Cotton Turner put the passing game in turmoil. David Piland has done an admirable job filling in for the injured signal callers, but he is no Keenum. However, through 11 games (one of which Cleveland missed due to suspension) he has caught 57 passes for 800 yards and six scores.
Cleveland's success has been in part due to the system. He does not have the size to be a premiere NFL receiver. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, he is just not big enough to fill that role. Cleveland has good hands and runs good routes, but he is a slot receiver at the next level and should stay on the board until the fourth or fifth round."
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