2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Ht: 6'5" Wt: 260
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Evaluated by: J.T. Garand
A high end four-star prospect coming out of high school, Clelin Ferrell promised a lot of upside as an athletic 6-5, 220 lbs defensive end. Before his decorated collegiate career at Clemson as a three-year starter and two-time national champion, Ferrell redshirted his freshman year and added much needed strength and weight to his frame while recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in high school. He showed flashes of excellence his redshirt Freshman season, sharing co-defensive rookie of the year honors with Dexter Lawrence and racking up 50 tackles (12.5 for loss) six sacks, and a team-high 24 quarterback pressures in 15 games (15 starts) while playing a crucial role for the Tigers 2016 national championship run.
Ferrell continued to improve as a redshirt sophomore and was credited with 63 tackles (18 for loss), 9.5 sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, and two forced fumbles over 14 games (14 starts) on his way to earning first-team AP All-American and first team All-ACC honors. During his final collegiate year, Ferrell dominated opposing offensives with 53 tackles (19.5 for a loss), 11.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in 15 starts, winning the Ted Hendricks award for the nation's top defensive end and earning unanimous first-team all-America, ACC defensive player of the year, first team All-ACC, and Bednarik Semi-finalist honors for the 2018 national champion Tigers.
As a rangy 6'4-6'5" defensive lineman weighing around 260 lbs, Clelin Ferrell possesses the ideal size and athleticism to play the 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 OLB position in the NFL, and has the frame to add another 10-15 functional pounds over the course of his first few seasons as a pro. Ferrell has phenomenal instincts, and his ability to jump the snap is elite. He regularly puts himself in advantageous positions off the snap to set the edge against the run, and generate pressure against the quarterback. He has done a great job of developing his hand placement and pass blocking counter technique, and routinely made getting past collegiate offensive lineman look easy. He jumps out on film as a fierce competitor, and his relentless motor allows him to make plays by simply out working his opponents.
Ferrell was highly productive in both passing and rushing situations in college. In the past fifteen years, he ranks third in the ACC in career sacks and second in tackles for loss. Against the pass, Ferrell displays a high football IQ by recognizing passing sets and instinctively jumping the snap to put offensive lineman on their heels. His go to strategy in drop back passing scenarios is to capitalize on the positioning gained from a quick first step and use his above average strength and speed to beat the offensive tackle around the edge. He also has an arsenal of advanced pass blocking counters, and does a great job of reading the blocker and employing the right move to take advantage of their balance and momentum and beat them to the inside.
Against the run, Ferrell has adequate strength to engage blockers, set the edge, and hold his position. He effectively diagnoses blocking schemes and has excellent vision to put himself in the position to make plays in the backfield. He is a technician at getting off of blocks and uses his broad tackle radius and strong upper body strength to work through contact and bring down the ball carrier. He is a rangy tackler and does a great job of pursuing the ball carrier from the back end.
It is difficult to find many flaws in Ferrell's game. However, when comparing him to edge rushers taken in the first ten picks in previous draft classes, his explosiveness and natural ability as a vicious finisher appear to be marginal. In a loaded defensive line class, Ferrell's instincts, football IQ, and teqnique are as impressive as any. Although he has a pro-ready build, many draft war rooms will be cautious taking him early in the first round because his ceiling may not be as high as surefire top 10 picks taken in the past like Myles Garrett, Jedeveon Clowny, and Bradley Chubb. Ferrell's ability to drop back in coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker is underdeveloped. He displayed tremendous range in space throughout his college career, but the primary role he played at Clemson was a 4-3 edge rusher and his coverage skills are raw.
Clelin Ferrell is a long, athletic, and highly polished defensive lineman who will make an early impact as an edge rusher in the NFL. His non-stop motor and high football IQ are top shelf. He has tremendous instincts, made apparent by his ability to jump the snap, that enable him to make a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. For his build, he displays above average overall speed and strength. He is without a doubt a first round talent, but at this point of his career his ability to explosively overpower opposing offensive lineman with sheer physicality is not at the same level as some of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. In a league that places a premium value on pass rushers, the perception of his ceiling to become franchise changing edge rusher will determine where he is ultimately taken in this draft. He has the tools to develop his coverage skills as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but still has a long way to go until he will be considered reliable at defending receivers in space. That being said, the effective balance he brings to the table as both a run defender and a pass rushing specialist will make him an effective 3-down player in the league and he will be most effective at the 4-3 defensive end position, the role he played in college.
NFL player Comparison
Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Technique, specifically disengaging blockers
- Relentless motor and competitive disposition
- Polished as a pass rusher
- Versatility in coverage as a 3-4 linebacker
- Raw explosiveness
|Scouting Video Courtesy of ACC Digital Network|