For Clelin Ferrell, you’d need to assume that he wants to put aside his rookie season. Granted, he tallied 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Yet, how he arrived at those stats and how the season ended for him must leave a rather bitter taste in his mouth. Whether anyone outside of the Henderson headquarters agrees or not, the Las Vegas Raiders invested high draft capital in Ferrell. Now, he must build up the positive aspects of his rookie season.
If you revisit draft boards and profiles, many analysts valued other prospects, chosen after Ferrell. Josh Allen’s ability to get home, in the minds of many, placed him ahead. Meanwhile, linebackers Devin White and Devin Bush would give the Raiders, a young middle linebacker to build the defense around. Also, Montez Sweat looked like a pick with higher upside than Ferrell.
Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden from jump, wanted Ferrell at the fourth spot. In the ensuing picks, you can see the Clemsoning of the organization begins. The team, led by Gruden and Mayock value what Dabo Swinney brings to the table. To his credit, Ferrell was a plug-and-play starter, capable of playing the first snap. On the other hand, many chided the team for drafting a player that maxed out athletically and reached his ceiling.
After notching a sack in his first NFL game, Ferrell didn’t get home for two months. During that time, he suffered a concussion, causing him to miss the London game versus the Chicago Bears. While he gave maximum effort, tackles stonewalled Ferrell at every turn. Losing during single blocks did not restore faith in anyone’s initial reservations about Ferrell’s struggles. Meanwhile, Maxx Crosby started feasting on opponents and racking up big plays.
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As mentioned, Ferrell tallied 4.5 sacks. In a way, there are two sides to this stat. On one hand, you could say, that Ferrell feasted on the weaker Chargers/Broncos offensive lines. In contrast, Ferrell did what fourth overall picks should so, which is, dominate lesser tackles. Depending on where you view Ferrell in the run, it determines what you think.
Over the course of 2019, Ferrell saw his snap percentage plummet. During his first ten games, he averaged 72.9 percent of defensive snaps. The last five? 49.6 percent of the same saw Ferrell line up. Also, the Raiders kicked him inside with regularity.
What does Rod Marinelli need to do, in order to help Ferrell?
Keep it plain and simple. First, rotate him as usual, but avoid kicking him inside. Unless, ge will evolve into a permanent three-technique, let him loos from the perimeter. Next, preach variety. Granted, Ferrell does feature a serviceable bull rush, instill more variety. Remember, Ferrell stands six-foot-five, with long arms. A classic swim with a deeper technical base would help.
Is Ferrell going to settle in as a two-down end?
Hopefully not. You don’t spend the fourth overall pick on someone that doesn’t provide elite pass rush from the defensive end spot. Whether fair or not, Ferrell needs to step up. He needs to make it difficult to sub him out.
The book on Clelin Ferrell contains only one chapter. The Raiders thought enough of him to draft him high. However, he needs to become a dominant force versus most teams, not just the weaker ones.