The first two years of Clelin Ferrell’s career haven’t been easy for the young pass rusher. He came into the NFL as the number four overall pick after an impressive run at Clemson. The Las Vegas Raiders decided to take him earlier in the draft than anybody expected and he didn’t do a lot to silence the critics during his rookie year.
He only accumulated 4.5 sacks in 2019. However, he’s been better than the stats would suggest. So far in 2020, Ferrell hasn’t notched a single sack but there’s no doubt he’s been better. He finished Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs with zero sacks but pressured Patrick Mahomes nine times, which is a career-best, according to Pro Football Focus.
Head coach Jon Gruden had some very high praise for the young defensive lineman.
“The statistics don’t always show what a player does,” Gruden said. “I thought he had 13 or 14 factor plays that really helped win this game. He played inside, he played outside, he showed the ability to convert his speed rush to power. He showed good chase and pursuit, great energy and effort.
“That was his best game, I think, as a Raider, especially in the second half.”
If Ferrell can keep creating pressure, the sacks will come. The Chiefs don’t have a bad offensive line so it makes what he did even more impressive. Perhaps we’ll look back at this as his breakout game.
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Gruden Praises Defensive Effort
There probably wasn’t a single person in the world who thought the Raiders were going to be praised for their defensive effort in Week 5 against the Chiefs. The game got off to a rough start as the team allowed 24 points in the first half. However, they came alive in the second half and only allowed eight points to the Super Bowl champions.
“Just that we had some tremendous effort,” Gruden said. “I think that’s the signature of that film, just tremendous effort. Something we believe in as a staff. Our defensive line’s relentless effort to try to get [Mahomes] on the ground and try to disrupt passes.
“Offensively, the effort that it took to get the lead and get the ball with 3:55 and hand the ball off and end the game with the offense on the field. … A lot of toughness, physical toughness. It was a hot day against a great opponent. I think the effort, the mental and physical toughness showed up yesterday more than anything.”
The Raiders defense has been bad this season but they turned things around. This could a turning point for a group that does have solid, young talent. They just haven’t been able to put it all together yet.
Ferrell Among Highest-Graded Edge Rushers
While Ferrell’s stats may not be all that impressive, he’s been one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, he has the third-highest grade among edge defenders.
Highest-graded edge defenders in Wk 5 ahead of MNF:
1. Demarcus Lawrence – 94.9
2. Aldon Smith – 92.1
3. Clelin Ferrell – 86.7
4. Pernell McPhee – 81.3 pic.twitter.com/ln8QV9MQU0
— PFF (@PFF) October 12, 2020
We all know that Ferrell is a good run defender but if he can keep creating pressure, people are going to stop questioning the Raiders’ decision to take him so high in the draft.