Originally published by RaidersNewswire.com
The Las Vegas Raiders made one of the most surprising picks in the 2019 NFL Draft when they took defensive end Clelin Ferrell out of Clemson with the No. 4 overall pick.
There’s no denying that Ferrell had an outstanding college career, although he was projected to be a late first-round pick, not the top-five pick that the Raiders touted him as.
Ferrell got an opportunity to start for the Raiders his entire rookie season and he certainly had his moments, but overall was a bit disappointing in his first taste of NFL action. In 15 games, Ferrell had 38 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and five pass deflections.
Luckily for the Raiders, they did get top-five pick production from one of their other rookie defensive ends as fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby had a stellar season, being named the runner up for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
With Crosby returning and the addition of Carl Nassib in free agency, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden recently revealed that he expects Ferrell to play inside more this season, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic:
Ferrell, the second-year defensive end, put on 13 pounds of good weight in the offseason.
“We want all of our defensive linemen to have the versatility to play inside,” Gruden said. “If there’s a weak link somewhere, or there’s a game that we want to try to exploit stunt-wise, we’d like everybody to have that versatility on third down, certainly. But, we think Cle can bat some balls down, we think he can do a lot of things as a rusher inside and out eventually.”
While the jury is still out on Ferrell as an NFL player and No. 4 overall draft pick, one positive about him is that he does have the versatility to play inside or outside.
His statistics may not be as impressive if he plays inside more this season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still make a big impact on defense, particularly in the run game.
The Raiders made a ton of acquisitions on defense this offseason, which should make for a much-improved group in 2020, and Ferrell has an opportunity to be a big part of that.
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