After a long wait, training camp has finally arrived for the Oakland Raiders and the rookies will be the first guys to take center stage. Chief among those rookies is DE Clelin Ferrell. With being the highest selected rookie of the class, the expectations for Ferrell will be substantial. The Raiders are in desperate need of a pass rush after trading away Khalil Mack a year ago. While Ferrell probably won’t be Khalil Mack, he needs to be a constant threat to opposing quarterbacks if he’s going to live up to the hype of being the fourth overall in the draft. With expectations so high, Ferrell will also be subject to his fair share of scrutiny.
Raiders Rookie DE Will Be Most Scrutinized Player at Training Camp
When it was announced that the Raiders decided to draft Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick, they shocked the world. Kentucky DE Josh Allen was still on the board and he was much more highly touted than Ferrell. Ferrell still had first-round expectations, just not top-five expectations. Because of this surprise, Ferrell is going to be heavily scrutinized throughout training camp. According to Kristopher Knox at Bleacher Report, he’ll be more scrutinized than any other player on the roster:
“The Oakland Raiders used the fourth overall pick in April’s draft on former Clemson pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell. This came as a bit of a surprise, as they passed on highly touted defensive prospects such as Josh Allen, Ed Oliver and Devin White to select him. That’s the main reason Ferrell will be carefully analyzed throughout training camp and the preseason. Oakland obviously got the guy it wanted, but was he the right choice? Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock, the front-office duo that targeted him, certainly hope so.”
It’s not necessarily Ferrell’s fault that this pressure has been added. However, being a top-five pick means that you need to have elite talent. Ferrell was consistent and productive at Clemson. That Clemson defense was loaded with NFL talent, so Ferrell faced less double teams. The talent on the Raiders is less spread out throughout the defense. Ferrell is going to have to fight to get sacks. While Ferrell may not have had as much upside as Josh Allen, he is NFL-ready and very mature. He’s a low-ceiling/high-floor kind of prospect. That might just be the exact type of player the Raiders need.
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Clelin Ferrell’s 2019 Outlook
Ferrell will certainly get his chance to prove his value during the 2019 season. With very little depth in front of him, Ferrell is almost a lock to start for the team. He’s also a natural-born leader that will immediately assume a leadership role on a very young Raiders defense. The player that will play opposite him will likely be either Arden Key or Maxx Crosby. Those two are unproven, so Ferrell will probably get the majority of the attention from opposing offenses. He’s going to have to really play well if he’s going to put up big sack numbers.
The Raiders defense should be better at every level of the defense. It’s very hard to imagine that the team will only get 13 sacks for a second consecutive year. Ferrell will have his work cut out for him, but don’t be surprised if he comes out strong and puts up a solid eight sack campaign. While those aren’t Khalil Mack numbers, they are a vast improvement over last year’s sack leader Maurice Hurst, who only netted four.