The Oakland Raiders owned three first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. With the fourth-overall pick, the Raiders chose to select Clelin Ferrell—a highly-touted defensive end out of Clemson.
When Oakland drafted Ferrell, they were expecting to get an immediate difference-maker on the defensive front. However, Ferrell had a wildly inconsistent rookie campaign with the Raiders in 2019.
Despite starting in 15 games, Ferrell tallied only 38 tackles, 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, and eight quarterback hits. The rookie out of Clemson showed that he still needs time to adjust to the ins and outs of the NFL moving forward.
Last year, Oakland managed to total just 13 sacks as a defense (32nd in the NFL). Therefore, there was a belief within the Raiders’ organization that Ferrell would help fix the lack of a pass rush.
In 2019, the Raiders were able to sack the opposing quarterback 32 times (25th in the NFL). At the least, Ferrell helped slightly improve the pass rush for the Raiders, right?
Even with it being a disappointing season, Ferrell still flashed upside as a defensive end in the NFL. At 6-foot-4 and nearly 260 pounds, Ferrell is the prototypical size for a formidable defensive end in the league.
Additionally, Ferrell’s ability to use his hands to create leverage provides optimism for the future. With that being said, what letter grade does Ferrell deserve for his first season in the NFL in 2019?
Clelin Ferrell’s grade for the 2019 season: C
Considering the expectations for Ferrell, he left a lot to be desired in his rookie campaign. Just like he showed in college, his lack of quickness around the edge makes him a one-dimensional defensive end.
Again, when you are taken with the fourth-overall selection, it’s assumed that you’ll make an immediate impact. But for Ferrell, he only had three games where he recorded a single sack for the Raiders.
It also doesn’t help Ferrell’s case that Maxx Crosby outplayed him as a mid-round pick. As Oakland’s fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Crosby totaled 47 tackles, 10 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 14 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles.
While Crosby proved to be a steal for Oakland, Ferrell showed that he may become a wasted decision. However, there’s still time for Ferrell to improve his game and come back better than ever in 2020. There are a few positives for Ferrell to build upon in the upcoming offseason.
If Ferrell has another unproductive season in 2020, the Clemson alum will begin to be labeled as a bust. Even now, it’s fair to be skeptical about Ferrell’s ability as a starting defensive end in the NFL.