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Is Clelin Ferrell A Poor Man’s Nick Bosa?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Clelin Ferrell , EDGE
School: Clemson | Conference: ACC
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 264 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Top-20
NFL Comparison: Robert Quinn (Pk#10)

Collegiate Statistics

Pro Football Focus’ Advanced Stats:

According to Pro Football Weekly’s Marcus Mosher, no stat for college defensive linemen is more predictive of NFL success than tackles for loss. Other than undersized Sutton Smith, Clelin Ferrell’s 37.5 TFL over the past two seasons leads the edge class.

Player Overview

Ferrell came to Clemson as the sixth defensive end high school recruit in the nation (by Rivals) despite the fact that he did not play his senior season due to a torn ACL, and a hand injury forced him to red-shirt his first season.

The following season, Ferrell replaced the departed Shaq Lawson in 2016 very well, sharing the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year award with teammate Dexter Lawrence.

Most services voted Ferrell to their second-team All-American teams in 2017 fueling speculation that he would declare for the NFL as a Redshirt Sophomore. At the time he announced he was returning for his senior season, Ferrell was ranked as the eighth player overall for the 2018 NFL draft by Kiper, while McShay ranked him as his #18 prospect.

In his final season, Ferrell notched a career-high 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss that helped earn him First-Team All-American honors. Additionally, he won the 2018 ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, and the Ted Hendricks Award, awarded to the nation’s top defensive end.

Overall, Ferrell leaves Clemson as a three-year starter, who helped Clemson win a pair of National Championships in 2018 and 2016.

Athletic Traits

Ferrell opted to sit out at Clemson’s Pro Day due to a toe injury. At the NFL Combine, Ferrell tested slightly below average in the agility drills, but has yet to run a 40 yard dash. Thus far, he did post a 4.40 short shuttle, 7.26 3-cone, 26 bench press reps, and a 9-foot-6 broad jump.

The Film

See Highlights Of His NFL Combine Workouts

See more of his film.

Strengths

  • Prototypical frame with long arms and violent hands.
  • Battle-tested, three year starter, who played in the college football playoffs each season, with good film against quality offensive lineman, such as Alabama’s Jonah Williams.
  • Disruptive pass-rusher, who times the snap well, has an explosive first snap, showed advanced technique, and a diverse repertoire of pass rush moves.
  • Plays with good leverage, is strong at the point of attack, and sets the edge very well against the run.
  • A play-maker, who also batted down four passes, forced three fumbles and recovered one in 2018.
  • Experience dropping back into coverage in zone-blitzes.
  • Since the 2016 season, Ferrell has been very durable in college and started every game (44) of his career at Clemson.

Weaknesses

  • Questionable athleticism and pure speed (has not yet run a 40).
  • Doesn’t have the flexibility to turn the corner and flatten his trajectory to the quarterback. Too often, he gets too far upfield, taking himself out of the play.
  • How much did he benefit from the talent around him?
  • Clemson’s Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables’ defense is structured to let his defensive ends get upfield and make plays behind the line-of-scrimmage, padding statistics.

What Others Are Saying

Tony Pauline - “He’s a good pass rusher, he can play in space, he can drop off the LOS, you can use him out of a three point stance, you can stand him over tackle...I think when it is all said and done, he’s going to be a top five pick, wouldn’t surprise me if hops into the top three selections of the draft.”

Midway though the 2018 season, WalterFootball talked to scouts who said they thought Ferrell would go in the mid- to late first round and that “teams do not view him as an explosive edge rusher in the mold of a Myles Garrett or Von Miller.”

Lance Zierlein- “Highly productive 4-3 defensive end with prototypical size, length and strength to offer early help against both the run and pass. Playing next to NFL talent in all three years certainly made things easier for Ferrell, but his edge-setting and rush plan improvements are self-made. His rush can be leggy and gradual and might not get home as often in the pros, but NFL coaching might further unleash his physical traits and turn him into a star. Ferrell is a complete defender and steady talent who could start early for a 4-3 stop unit.”

Billy Marshall - “Ferrell is typically the first player off the ball due to his snap reaction. However, he struggles to bend the edge. In order to win on the edge, he has to dip underneath the offensive tackle’s shoulder and take less steps. The reason for his less than satisfactory bend likely has to do with his ankle flexion not being comparable to other speed rushers.”

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

Recent mocks are trending toward Ferrell still being on the board when the Redskins are on the clock and some have him lasting well into the 20s.

Ferrell is actually a pretty similar prospect to Nick Bosa. While neither are as athletic as Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat, each are a better technicians. Also similar to Bosa, Ferrell wins with heavy hands, appears to have a pass-rush plan, understands angles and body positioning, and gives second effort if his first move is neutralized.

Ferrell is an EDGE that is battle-tested, has been highly productive, and looks somewhat scheme diverse. Somewhat of a limited athlete, he has been lauded for his first step quickness, yet ridiculed for relatively slow 2nd and 3rd step. While Ferrell is experienced dropping into coverage, doing so plays into his weaknesses instead of his strengths.

In my opinion, Ferrell would be a great replacement, and in time, an upgrade over the since departed Preston Smith.