The Las Vegas Raiders opted not to extend the contracts of their 2019 first-round draft picks, Clelin Ferrell included. The former Clemson standout has much work to do if he intends on having a future with the Silver and Black.
Already in just their first offseason as general manager and head coach, Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels have demonstrated that they mean business. The fact is, they owe no loyalty to the draft picks of the previous regime. In a matter of days, Raiders fans saw Alex Leatherwood and Trayvon Mullen get their tickets punched out of Sin City. In addition, Ferrell was the subject of several rumors and reports with regard to his future. Fortunately for him, it was all conjecture, and the fourth overall remained with the Raiders through it all.
Clearly, the coaching staff must see some potential. Perhaps, instead of being used as a run defender, fans will finally get to see Ferrell come off the edges. Speaking to the media recently, Ferrell made light of his weight and the changes he’s gone through this offseason. Most notably, was the fact that he dropped 10 pounds in anticipation of a potential role change.
“I didn’t have to, but I did on my own. I dropped about 10 pounds. I’d been rushing on the inside the last couple of years and I was trying to put on that weight to really handle it down there. As you get older, you start getting your grown man strength and we’re dropping a lot more now, too. I cut the weight down, and I feel like I can move a lot better, so I feel pretty good.”
Will the Las Vegas Raiders finally maximize the talents of Clelin Ferrell?
Ferrell came into the league with heavy expectations placed on him, which in retrospect was disastrous. He’s a prime example of the wasted draft capital perpetuated by the Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock duo. Ferrell is a talented player, but he wasn’t worthy of the fourth overall pick. The young man came into the Raiders with fans seeing him as Khalil Mack’s replacement, an unfair proposition. What’s worse was that Ferrell was relegated to a one-dimensional role, pass rushing and defending the run inside. Under Graham, Ferrell’s going to get different looks, and with that, what’s likely to be his last chance at proving himself.
“I feel like it’s the more you can do. For most guys in this league, it’s about getting to the quarterback, so I think any defensive lineman should consider themselves a rusher. I think just in regard to what Pat has been asking us to do, I think versatility is the thing that is most important for guys on this defense – not just being a one-dimensional player.”
Ferrell is right; this new Raiders’ regime treasures versatility. You see it up and down the roster. Luckily for him, Ferrell believes he, too, is versatile in what he can do. However, make no mistake, Ferrell is fully aware that, at the end of the day, bringing down the quarterback (and hard) is what matters. In an NFL that’s being dominated by multifaceted defensive players who line up all over the field, Ferrell will get a final opportunity to show he, too, can bring it. The question is, will it be sufficient? Is it too late for him, with his long-term fate still unknown?
*Top Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images