After two preseason games, it’s obvious that Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end Clelin Ferrell is currently a backup. With the recent news of a proposed Khalil Mack trade earlier in the offseason, have the Raiders given up on Ferrell?
Disappointing results thus far…
In the 2019 NFL draft, the Raiders held the number four overall pick. Looking to replace an elite pass rusher in Khalil Mack, it was widely known the Raiders would be adding at that position. What was not known was who they would take. Of course, they would take Clemson’s, Clelin Ferrell. As reactions to Ferrell’s shocking selection went viral, Raiders fans were left to wonder how he would replace a future Hall of Famer.
The short answer is that he wouldn’t. In Ferrell’s two years in the NFL, he has recorded just 6.5 sacks. In Mack’s time away from the Raiders, he has recorded 30. While Ferrell was never expected to become Mack, he has not even been an average pass rusher as his teammate and fourth-rounder Maxx Crosby, who has outproduced him. Unfortunately for the Raiders, these struggles have carried over into the preseason in 2021.
Time to step up
In the preseason so far, Ferrell has played in both games. This is a big indication of how the Raiders staff feels about him as they have kept over 20 starters out in both contests. The worst part of these games for Ferrell is that he doesn’t look out of place among backups. In the games so far, Ferrell has one and a half tackles. That’s it. The former top-five pick simply doesn’t have the pass-rushing juice to last in a Gus Bradley defense.
Another black mark on Ferrell is the additions the Raiders have made. In the two years since drafting him, Las Vegas has now signed Yannick Ngakoue, drafted Malcolm Koonce, and attempted to trade for Mack. Clearly, they believe they made a mistake in the draft two years ago.
Working in Ferrell’s favor is the style of defense Bradley runs. While his defense prioritizes being able to rush with just four, it also rotates linemen often. So although Ferrell is not a great pass rusher, he will get a few chances to do so based on the rotations being made. At this point, however, Koonce may be the third-best pass rusher in Las Vegas behind Ngakoue and Crosby. For Ferrell to claim a role in 2021, he will need to improve greatly and quickly.
*Top Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports