While it wasn’t a terrible rookie year for Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell, it certainly wasn’t what many were expecting when the team drafted him so high. Ferrell was highly productive in college at Clemson and figured to ready to make an easy transition to the pros. However, that wasn’t the case and he struggled at times.
“It was a large learning experience that was mainly a lot of fun,” Ferrell said after the season. “There were ups and downs, good times and bad times, but the main thing was learning to push through obstacles during the entire season. That was something I enjoyed learning how to do, and it showed me I need to grow up in a few areas.”
Ferrell got better as the season went on and 4.5 sacks on the season isn’t a terrible number for a rookie. He’s shown very strong run defense and clearly knows how to get to the quarterback based on his college numbers. That said, he knows he can play better and made a bold prediction for how he’s going to look in 2020.
“I’m excited for the offseason because when I come back, it’s going to be [as] a completely different player,” Ferrell said. “You probably won’t even recognize me. Seriously. I’m excited.”
Gruden Talks Ferrell
Even through his worst struggles, head coach Jon Gruden has been a big defender of Ferrell’s. He used his season-ending press conference to praise the defensive end.
“I think he played pretty well,” Gruden said. “I think he had [4.5] sacks, recovered a fumble [vs. Denver in the season finale], batted down some balls, played good against the run.
“We asked him to do way too much early in this season. We had him playing inside quite a bit. … He didn’t do a lot of that at Clemson. So, I think next year when he becomes more of a full-time defensive end acclimated to the scheme better, I think he’ll show even more and more improvement.”
Gruden has talked several times about how they moved Ferrell inside on many plays. That lessened his ability to rush the passer, which could be a reason his sack totals were underwhelming. Regardless, the world should get a better idea of what Ferrell can do in year two. As the fourth overall pick in any draft, there are going to extremely high expectations. He didn’t necessarily reach those expectations in 2019, but there’s still more than enough time to prove any doubters wrong.
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Maxx Crosby Already Impressing
Ferrell’s lack of production was accentuated by the fact that he was outperformed by the team’s fourth-round pick, Maxx Crosby. The defensive end out of Eastern Michigan had little to no expectations for his rookie season, but he blew everybody away.
“You know, that to me is a jaw-dropping number not a lot of people know about,” Gruden said about Crosby. “I mean, he had 10 sacks as a rookie.”
Not many rookies get to the 10 sack mark. Not even Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Nick Bosa had as many sacks. If Crosby was the fourth overall pick and Ferrell was picked in the fourth round, nobody would be complaining now. Regardless, it looks like the Raiders have two young defensive ends that they’re excited about. The future could be really bright for the team’s defensive line.
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