Grading the 2019 Oakland Raiders: Defensive End Clelin Ferrell
By Alex Perl
The Oakland Raiders selected Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and he came on strong as a rookie late in the season.
In the 2019 Draft, the Oakland Raiders were in an awkward position. The top pass rusher had been selected at pick No. 2 in Nick Bosa, and the most disruptive interior lineman had been selected at pick No. 3 in Quinnen Williams. The Raiders were expected to take All-American linebacker Josh Allen with their pick, or even perhaps inside linebacker Devin White at No. 4, but the Raiders made a move at this pick that shocked not only Raider Nation, but the world.
The selection was read out loud to shock and horror and even some boos, as the name proclaimed to be the newest Oakland Raider, would be Clelin Ferrell from Clemson. On paper the pick made perfect sense. Ferrell was a two time CFP champion, a two time First-team All-American, and the 2018 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
For a Raiders team that had a grand total of 13 sacks as a team in 2018, he made perfect sense. So the question would be why all the hate and ridicule for this pick?
Well this where things get cloudy. Football like no other sport bases most of their scouting on two things, and that is game tape and the NFL Combine. Ferrell dealing with a nagging toe injury decided not to run the famed 40-yard dash at the Combine.
This made him drop considerably in most mock drafts, as well as being labeled by many media analysts as being “Not quite athletic enough.” Regardless of how Raider fans felt, this was the pick and he had very lofty expectations, especially considering who he was selected over.
Ferrell started off strong, even picking up a sack in his debut game vs the Denver Broncos, but with nagging injuries and in what some instances, seemed like a lack of strength against stronger offensive lineman in the pro game, Ferrell did indeed struggle in his rookie debut. Ferrell finished with 38 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, and the stat that meant the most, a meager four and a half sacks through fifteen total games.
Ferrell did not have a terrible rookie campaign, and did show significant strides towards the end of the season, but considering Allen ended up making not only the Pro Bowl in his debut season, but finished with 10.5 sacks, it makes Ferrell’s season look pretty unspectacular to say the least. Throw in the fact on the opposite side of the field in Oakland was a fourth round pick in defensive end Maxx Crosby, who led the Raiders with ten sacks, it really does show the struggles Ferrell endured as a rookie.
With a year under his belt, a move to Las Vegas and a new defensive line coach on the horizon in Rod Marinelli, year two could be the year that Ferrell has the chance to prove his critics wrong and shine. As of now though we are grading the young man’s first year, and with what seems like a lack of top end burst, lesser strength then what is needed to excel at this position, and a meager four and half sacks, I’m going to give Ferrell an average grade for his efforts.