Raiders DE Clelin Ferrell closing out rookie season on a high note
By Sanjit T.
It may have a taken a bit for Clelin Ferrell to get his feet wet at the NFL level, but he has played at a very high level during the Raiders losing streak.
Every young player develops at there own pace. For some players, like Clelin Ferrell, it can take some time at the NFL level before they start playing like a fourth overall selection. While some can have an immediate impact, it is not always the case for high draft picks.
Take a look at Raiders 2018 first-round pick Kolton Miller, the team’s starting left tackle through his first two seasons in the NFL. It took him a full year and an offseason, which including him gaining almost 20 pounds of muscle. No developmental pace is the same for any two players.
So when it came to the Raiders 2019 First-round pick Clelin Ferrell, we knew it would take some time. It looks like 10 weeks is all he needed because, over the past five weeks, something has clicked for the 4th overall pick.
According to PFF, 130 defensive linemen have played at least 150 snaps over the past five weeks, and Clelin Ferrell is the 9th highest-graded player with a grade of 81.4. This ranks him ahead of defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Chris Jones, Demarcus Lawrence, & Khalil Mack.
His grade over the past five weeks is the highest grade among all rookie defensive linemen, and 2nd when you look at all defensive rookies. Only behind DeAndre Baker’s 81.9 grade. PFF Grades are based on a player doing his job, over stats.
"The grades are based on context and performance.A four-yard run that gains a first down after two broken tackles will receive a better grade than a four-yard run on 3rd & 5, where the ball carrier does nothing more than expected.A quarterback who makes a good pass that a receiver tips into the arms of a defender will not negatively affect the quarterback’s grade on that play, despite the overall negative result for the team."
People will quickly point out that Ferrell has yet to produce a sack over the past five weeks, but this is primarily because Ferrell has been used mostly on 1st and 2nd downs. Among the 130 defensive linemen who have played at least 150 snaps over the past five weeks, Ferrell ranks 114th in pass rush attempts with 83.
If Clelin doesn’t get the same amount of pass rush opportunities as others, he will not be able to get the sacks. Compare Ferrell to Nick Bosa. Bosa has rushed the passer 178 times in the past five weeks, as opposed to Ferrell’s 83.
Nonetheless, Clelin has been really impressive in that span and has only improved each week. From Weeks 11 to 15, his grade went from 62.5 to 71.4, to 71.9, to 73.2 and finally, in Week 15, he had the best game of his career, with a grade of 90.8, which PFF considers elite.
Although It’s clear Ferrell still needs to keep developing on his pass-rushing technique, his run-stopping ability has been a huge asset for the rookie. A pass-rushing specialist this offseason could do wonders for Ferrell.
He has shown flashes of an all-pro defensive end and should take a huge step forward next year. My comparison of what Ferrell can become over the next few years is Carlos Dunlap and Cameron Jordan.