Clelin Ferrell was a terrific football player at Clemson, but many around the NFL were surprised when the defensive end was taken with the No. 4 overall pick by the Raiders in the recent NFL draft.
He was deemed by some analysts a “reach,” who would have been available lower in the first round.
Yet the Raiders loved him. The 6-foot-4, 267-pounder was a star for a national-champion defense in 2018, collecting 11½ sacks, 53 tackles, 19½ tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.
And, when Raiders general manager Mike Mayock explained why he selected Ferrell at No. 4, he cited many reasons, including his character and leadership.
“He checked all the boxes,” said Mayock. “He’s going to be a three-down player. He’s 267 pounds. He’s a captain. When you talk to the guys at Clemson, they say he was the cornerstone of that defense. Everything he does reminds me of what we want in the Raiders.”
But with Ferrell settling in with the Raiders now and participating in organized team activities (OTAs), there are still question marks – and will be, until he can prove himself on the field as an impact player this season.
This week, Paul Gutierrez, who covers the Raiders for ESPN.com, noted that nobody questions Ferrell’s leadership, work ethic or character, “but some in the organization wonder if he is ‘mean enough on the field.’ ”
Gutierrez cautions, though, that it’s early. Ferrell has plenty of time to show his abilities as an edge rusher and disruptor.
Wrote Gutierrez of Ferrell: “He has been working behind Benson Mayowa and Arden Key at defensive end early in OTAs and looks physically impressive. And since the Raiders have a need there – they had a league-low 13 sacks last season – Ferrell will have his shot. ‘We think Ferrell has the credentials to be an every-down defensive end,’ coach Jon Gruden said, ‘and also be a guy that we can build our defensive line around.’ ”
Ferrell certainly doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy who is bothered by what others think. After the draft, when told most analysts believed he was taken too high, he said, “I don’t pay attention to mock drafts. Those things are stupid.”
He says he’s just eager to work hard and show what he can do.
“I’m just so excited and I can’t wait for my opportunity,” he said.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Is-Raiders-Clelin-Ferrell-Mean-Enough-to-Excel-510811721.html.