Brock Huard’s 2019 NFL Draft preview: Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell
Each weekday at 8:30 a.m. leading up to the NFL Draft, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard will profile a prospect he considers to be a first-round possibility for the Seahawks. His previews begin with Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Listen to Huard’s full breakdown of Ferrell in the audio clip embedded below.
Here’s a breakdown:
• Position: DE
• Height/weight: 6-4/260
• Class: R-Jr.
• Hometown: Richmond, VA
Scouting report: Winner of the 2018 Ted Hendricks Award (given to the nation’s best defensive end), Ferrell finished his college career at Clemson with 166 tackles, 27 sacks and one interception. Ferrell entered his freshman year with the Tigers coming off an ACL injury, and was subsequently forced into a redshirt year with a hand injury. However, beginning with his sophomore season, Ferrell went on to play at least 14 games per year. His total tackles declined slightly in his final year at Clemson, but it wasn’t for a lack of productivity – Ferrell posted highs in tackles for loss (20), sacks (11.5), and turned one of his three forced fumbles into his first ever defensive touchdown.
Brock’s take: “My favorite player in this draft. Like Kevin Costner in Draft Day, his is the name I put on my little sticky note in my back pocket. I’ve traveled college for 11 years, and there’s not many times when I talk to players that I just stop in my tracks…
“He’s a gigantic man; all of his measurements are right up there on Pete Carroll’s charts of what he looks for in his LEO, in his pass rusher. Throw in the fact that he’s a two-time All-American, two-time All-Conference, and throw in his huge productivity. But even more than that… with a bunch of alphas, (Ferrell) was the keeper of the rules (on that defensive line)…. you don’t mess around with Clelin. A year-and-a-half ago, there was a pro day at Clemson and a bunch of dudes missed classes to go watch the pro day of some of their buddies, and it was Clelin that went and corralled them before any coach had to and said, ‘We don’t do that; that’s not the way we do things at Clemson.’ That’s the kind of guy I want on my D-line.
“He’s 6-4, runs about a 4.7, weighs 265 pounds. He’s got arms that go on forever. He’s a little tight; the reason he won’t be taken in the top 10 is he’s not a Montez Sweat-style 4.4. runner. Most of his other numbers are in the top 15 in D-linemen, but they’re not off the charts. And that’s why he won’t be up right up there in the top five, the top 10, maybe not even the top 15 players selected.
“But if he’s sitting there at No. 21, this is the conundrum and dilemma – more than any of these 10 years that we’ve ranked these drafts. You’ve got four picks and you need to trade down, but this is the biggest position of need on your roster, and if you don’t want to pay Frank Clark and you want to find his next guy and cost-control that dude for five years, this is the kind of guy you do that with. Now, Frank has a little bit more power, has a little bit more snap, and just (more) physical gifts. Not by much, but he’s got a little bit (of an advantage). But Ferrell has the structure, the hands, the things Carroll covets, and on top of it is an immensely productive player. Again, my favorite player in this draft.”
How he’d fit: As Huard noted, defensive end is one of Seattle’s biggest areas of need, if not the top. Clark finished the year with team highs in sacks (14) and quarterback hits (27), followed by defensive tackle Jarran Reed (10.5 sacks). However, both players are entering the final year of their deals, and Clark will play out 2019 under a $17 million franchise tag. The Dallas Cowboys’ recent contract extension with DeMarcus Lawrence sets the bar for retaining Clark at around $20 million per year. With both quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner also awaiting potential new deals, Seattle will face a tough decision: Will they be able to sign all three players, and still afford to build a strong team?
Should Seattle choose to sign Clark to a long-term deal, adding another defensive end will add depth to a group that already includes promising second-year pros Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green. If Seattle elects to move on from Clark, or lets him walk in 2020, the team will need to find a long-term answer at pass rusher – and there’s perhaps no better time than this year’s historically-deep defensive line class.