Clelin Ferrell has now gotten through one of the rockiest rookie seasons of the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2019 rookie class. While he was unable to consistently showcase his athleticism, he did get to prove his ability to move around a bit on the defensive line when necessary.
Beyond the Headlines
Although this is impressive and quite promising, the deeper meaning is not so positive. The fourth overall pick in last year’s draft does not have a concrete position. Fellow first-round picks Nick Bosa and Josh Allen do not see frequent snaps at defensive tackle as Ferrell does.
On a defense on a steady rise, players staying in one position group can help build chemistry, while moving players around, especially young first-round draft picks, can leave questions unanswered about the progression of the team.
Versatile, but Inconsistent
During the 2019 season, Ferrell played at defensive end on first and second down, while occasionally shifting to defensive tackle on third downs. The frequent changing of positions did not give Ferrell much wiggle room to improve or record an amount of stats most would expect from a fourth overall pick.
As a rookie in 2019, he recorded five passes defended, one fumble recovery, and a somewhat disappointing 4.5 sacks. Fans will strictly
Raiders Long Game
But, Ferrell is not too concerned about stats. Ferrell has mentioned setting goals for himself, but the entirety of his goals boil down to winning the Super Bowl. Ferrell was drafted in the Raiders’ draft class designed around drafting not only talent, but class and talent as well, and his goals certainly reflect that.
Though slightly undersized, he is a tremendous athlete. To combat this, he has added 13 pounds this offseason to make him more difficult to slow down. Ferrell bulking up shows his willingness to play wherever the Raiders need him.
It would certainly be better for Ferrell to be able to work in one position. Ideally, Ferrell could spend this entire (strange) offseason being constantly monitored and coached strictly at end.
Maxx Crosby had an electric rookie season, recording a team-leading 10 sacks. While not all defensive ends have the initial ability to do this, with work, he should with some hands-on coaching. Rod Marinelli meets his toughest challenge. Again, stats are clearly not his main focus, but a team with two 10+ sack recorders could have an easier path to the Super Bowl than a team without.