If Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell ends up as a role player this season, would it be justifiable to label him a bust?
The jury has always been highly critical of Ferrell, fair or not. He was the fourth overall selection and with that, came huge expectations for the former Clemson standout. Unfortunately, he came into a team that was still reeling from Khalil Mack’s departure so it was a difficult situation. To solely blame Ferrell for any shortcomings would actually be foolhardy. The Athletic’s Vic Tafur put it best recently, ‘…the defensive end has been fine — a tad underwhelming for being the fourth pick in 2019 but hey, he didn’t pick himself fourth.‘
The fact is, the Raiders reached by picking up Ferrell so early in the player’s selection meeting. With a new defensive coordinator coming in whose system will rely on interior pressure, revamping the trenches was vital. The Raiders signed Yannick Ngakoue, a player familiar with the new defensive boss, Gus Bradley. Las Vegas also added veteran Quinton Jefferson and a reclamation projection they hope will live up to their draft status, Solomon Thomas. The latter just became interesting with camp now underway. Tafur mentions that ‘for all the talk of Thomas playing inside at three-technique, the Raiders are starting to think he may be too small for that role after all.‘
It would appear that Ferrell will now have more competition to worry about in camp. Just when things appeared murky with so many defensive ends in-house, you can add Thomas to the mix. As far as Ferrell’s place on the rotation, he remains quite positive.
“The biggest thing we’re focused on is the cohesiveness. The depth chart is going to be what it’s going to be at the end of camp. This is the biggest D-line group we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
‘Ferrell is a good player…’
It’s certainly a good thing that Ferrell isn’t paying attention to the outside noise. He’s focused on helping to elevate this defensive line to another level, he’ll certainly have much help this season. Nevertheless, Ferrell will be playing in a crowded group for the first time in his career. Funny enough, Jon Gruden almost forgot about Ferrell as Tafur noted.
“Certainly, he’s going to be competing. He and Carl Nassib, who had a really good spring. They’re going to have to earn their snaps. If you know Cle, you’ll know he’ll compete. You probably should count on him to be a big part of this.”
You can either look at what Gruden said with a grain of salt or, with some legitimate concern. The number four overall pick is now competing with Nassib for snaps? Take that however you want, Raider Nation. Regardless, Gruden reiterated that ‘Ferrell is a good player‘ and ‘He’s unique. I think he’s unique because he can play right end, he can play left end. He’s a good run defender. I think his best pass rush might be inside.’
We’re only a few days into training camp but what happens if we get to the regular season and Ferrell’s snaps have dwindled? Surely if Ferrell by season’s end has been reduced to a role player, he would legitimately be a bust, right?
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