Here’s another option for the Atlanta Falcons to address their pass rushing issues in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In Clemson, South Carolina, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has manufactured a prominent source of top-notch NFL talent. Alongside with their establishment as a National Championship contender is the conception that the program produces prospects that NFL teams covet regularly. This draft season is no different.
In recent years, the Atlanta Falcons have tapped the well a few times, specifically with Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett. The Falcons are still in need of help along the defensive line, and the Tigers so happen to have a number of prospects that the Falcons have showed interest in. If the Falcons are to stay put at 14th overall in the first round, here is a defensive end prospect to keep an eye on.
Clelin Ferrell Scouting Report
Weight: 265 lbs
Career stats: 166 tackles, 50.5 tackles for loss, 27 sacks
Games watched: 2017 vs. Auburn, 2017 vs. NC State, 2017 vs. Alabama, 2017 vs. Florida State, 2018 vs. Boston College, 2018 vs. Texas A&M, 2019 vs. Alabama
Strengths: Accolades piled up for Ferrell after this past season with first team All-ACC honors, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and a first-team All-American nod, along with the Ted Hendricks award for the top defensive end in all of college football. Ferrell possesses favorable NFL size at 6’4 and 265 pounds. Along with the size comes great hand size at 10.5 inches. Partly because of that hand size, Ferrell has great hand usage when battling opposing linemen by shedding blockers efficiently and swiping away the hands of offensive linemen.
Ferrell utilizes a deep bag of pass-rushing moves from clubs and rips to swims, and is effective in playing either underneath or over the top in designed stunts. He has the arm length to consistently prevent blockers from getting inside his pads and many times, wins the leverage battle in that way. Ferrell’s vision is also a plus thanks to his ability to diagnose blocking schemes and reacting accordingly. His play strength allows him to be more than capable of establishing the edge in run defense and is tough to move at the point of attack.
Weaknesses: Ferrell’s lateral agility is commonly questioned thanks to a lack of fluidity in his hips. It definitely showed during the 2017 season as Ferrell’s playing weight was closer to 280 pounds. The added weight slowed his ability to turn and move even more. Ferrell has shown some struggles in space throughout his entire career. Ferrell has some athleticism in his game but not enough to consistently win against blockers with it. Ferrell is able to turn the corner against tackles, but has adequate closing burst on the quarterback. Ferrell played with prime NFL talent throughout his collegiate career and faces questions of whether he is a beneficiary because of it.
Conclusion: Ferrell is a unique prospect in this draft. He has plenty of production, especially over the course of the last two seasons at Clemson. He has garnered plenty of accolades and is just about a surefire first-round pick in this year’s draft.
However, there is a but. The but is that even with him being one of the first 32 players selected in this year’s draft, he probably has the lowest ceiling of any of the top edge rushers in this draft. It is not to say that Ferrell will not be good at the next level; he has a significant chance of being just that. What many wonder, including myself, is how good can Ferrell be.
Based on his overall skill set, I don’t expect Ferrell to be a difference making pass rusher in the same class as J.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, Myles Garrett, or Von Miller. But what I do expect is a pass rusher who wins off strength and technique and is able to be a key part of a team’s pass rush. His skill set clearly states that he is a strong-side defensive end, and in the Falcons defensive scheme, Ferrell can see time on the field on all three downs.
If selected at 14th overall by the Falcons, Ferrell can be an asset in Year 1 and beyond. While he may not necessarily be an elite difference maker, with a little polish, Ferrell can help form a really good tandem on the edge alongside third-year defensive end Takk McKinley.