The Oakland Raiders have not been quiet in their defense of rookie Clelin Ferrell. Ever since the team drafted him with the fourth overall pick, there have been naysayers about the decision. It also didn’t help that Ferrell wasn’t putting up strong numbers. He finally had a breakout game versus the Los Angeles Chargers that saw him rack up 2.5 sacks. Jon Gruden spoke to the media on Friday and gave his take on how Ferrell has been coming along.
“Ferrell… had [a] sickness, you know he lost a lot of weight for a few weeks,” said Gruden. “[He] wasn’t playing at his normal weight. We asked him to do a lot. He played inside. He played defensive tackle. I don’t know what [Pro] Football Focus says, but I bet if they focused on the numbers, he played inside quite a bit and that’s a real challenge for a rookie that is undersized and under his playing weight.”
Gruden is clearly calling out the analytics website Pro Football Focus here, who haven’t been kind to Ferrell for most of the season. While it has to be frustrating for Gruden to see his prized rookie get torn apart by analysts, it’s not fair to get mad at PFF. They simply use numbers to grade players. Now, Gruden has stated before that he’s not into analytics, so that could be a reason he’s not fond of PFF. The website isn’t the be all end all of whether or not a player is good. However, Gruden has a point that Ferrell shouldn’t only be looked at for his pass-rushing stats.
“We probably compromised him a bit by asking him to do a lot, but I think last week seeing him at the outside position, I think it really saw him at his normal playing strength, playing weight, playing position – play better, so hopefully, we can see more of that.”
One thing is for sure: if Ferrell plays like he did against the Chargers, his PFF grade should skyrocket.
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Clelin Ferrell Talks About His Development
It is true that Ferrell was dealing with a sickness that caused him to lose a lot of weight. This fact certainly slowed his development, but now, he’s starting to get back to where he should be.
“Facing the Detroit Lions was the first game where I felt comfortable with everything that I was asked to do,” Ferrell said on Thursday. “Before, it was like, ‘I’m comfortable with this and this, not so sure about this over here.’
It definitely looked like things started to click for Ferrell against the Lions as he was instrumental in helping the defense get the last stop of the game.
“I have been asked to do a lot of stuff. The whole practice week leading up to it, I felt really good with everything. I felt comfortable and that I could just go out there and play and put my own flavor on it and freestyle a bit. I really understood my responsibilities and I felt really good.”
If Ferrell can build off the momentum, he could be an invaluable asset for the Raiders. Maxx Crosby has proven to be an exciting rookie and if Ferrell can join the party, the team could be set on the defensive line for years to come. The Raiders have a matchup against a very weak Cincinnati Bengals offensive line. Ferrell needs to get some quarterback pressure in that game if he’s going to continue to silence the doubters.