Pressure comes with the territory of being a top-five draft pick. While Oakland’s pass rush does not solely lie on Ferrell’s shoulders, he is expected to be a significant part of the solution. Luckily pressure is something the collegiate national champion should be used to, and his time at Clemson proved he can thrive with lofty expectations.
In three years as a starter, Ferrell tallied 27 career sacks in college. The edge defender’s junior year was his most impressive, as he amassed 56 total pressures which was the third most in the ACC, according to Pro Football Focus. He was also the conference leader in sacks with 12 and named the conference defensive player of the year.
Ferrell’s collegiate success makes him worthy of being a day one starter, but now comes the hard part: keeping the job.
Despite being mid-September signing as a result of Justin Ellis‘ injury, Hankins might be the Raiders best acquisition of 2018. The big defensive tackle proved to be quite the run-stuffer as he posted the highest PFF Run Defense grade (73.1) on Oakland’s defensive line. Coincidentally Ellis is sidelined to start the year, so Hankins will need to continue his stout run defense in 2019.
The Ohio State product isn’t known for getting after the quarterback, but has found some success in his career. In 2014, Hankins posted a career high seven sacks, and accumulated 16 quarterback hits in 2016 and 2017. From a pass rush perspective, expectations should be low for the defensive tackle, but hopefully some of his past success will resurface this season.
Last season’s fifth-round pick already looks like he will be a steal. Hurst lead the team with four sacks last season, despite only playing in 13 games. The former Wolverine will look to build on a strong rookie campaign, and the strong preseason he put together indicates this year will be even better.
In college Hurst was an absolute force as both a run defender and pass rusher. The defensive tackle tallied 13.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss in three years as a starter at the University of Michigan. The Raiders will be counting on the second-year player to be a versatile defensive lineman in 2019 and for many years to come.
When the initial 53-man roster was released, Arden Key was viewed as a guy who would come in during pass rushing situations. However, when the initial depth chart was released on Tuesday for the Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos, it was Key’s name that was listed across from Ferrell as a starting defensive end.
Last season, like the rest of the Raiders, Key had a tough time getting after the quarterback, and had a ton of just-missed plays. He has looked outstanding this summer, and has started to gain the confidence of the coaching staff, so him starting opposite Ferrell is not too big of a shock.