Listed Height- 6’4″
Listed Weight- 265 Pounds
Ferrell will be a redshirt sophomore this year at Clemson, so it’s uncertain if he’ll actually be a part of the 2018 draft class. He wasn’t the highest touted guy coming out of high school. I think teams realized they needed to put some meat on his bones before he could make an impact on a D-Line, he was listed at 6’4” 225 pounds coming out. I’ve read that he played basketball and tight end in high school. Of course, now he is DE and took over as the full time starter this last year as a redshirt freshmen, starting all 15 games for the championship winning Clemson Defense. He finished the 2016 season with 44 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, and 6 sacks. He can get overlooked at times since he’s playing with other very talented players in Christian Wilkins (Junior) and Dexter Lawrence (True Sophomore). That’s why I refer to him as the middle child but he has legit talent as well.
Clelin has put on some serious mass upon his arrival at Clemson. He’s now listed at 6’4” 265 pounds and has some nice long arms to go with it. He has shown the ability to be a really good edge setter in the run game. He rarely gets blown off the ball or moved backwards. Despite not having great speed he shows really nice lateral quickness when getting down the line and protecting the sidelines. Stays very light on his feet to ensure ball carriers don’t get around him outside. I think you see some of his basketball pedigree there with his lateral movement protecting the edge. If you watched him against Ohio State you could get fooled into thinking he was a top ten pick. He earned defensive player of the game after finishing with 4 tackles (3 for loss) and 1 sack. He did a fantastic job defending their sideways attacks on offense, cleaning up WR sweeps/reverses. However, if you really watch the game you’ll notice that Ferrell wasn’t really getting touched by blockers on those plays. Where he had his success was when they tried to have pullers come around and block him. Props to him for taking advantage of their bad game plan, he exploded right through the line to make many plays in the backfield. He also gave their left tackle fits at times in the passing game. Ferrell’s intrigue has to do more so of what he can be than what he is now. His size, length, agility and fierce mentality to stop the run are impressive. You love a guy who shines brightest in big games like he did in the College Football Playoffs. His pass rush skills need work though.
Weaknesses/Concerns/Room for improvement
I am really interested to see how Ferrell has developed over the spring. If he comes back this season with still no pass rush moves in his arsenal, I’ll be disappointed and it’ll probably take him out of first round consideration. If he wants to be looked at as pass rush prospect, I really need to see him rush with more urgency. I saw a guy who didn’t really explode off the ball. He attacked right through the middle of tackles, allowing them to set up their fort against him. He has to be more deliberate with his hands, let me see you attack the tackle, and rip through their grasps with a purpose. If he played with the same sense of urgency as a pass rusher as he does as a run defender, we’re looking at a nightmare on the edge. I worry about his lack of athletic balance/flexibility, often times I see him attempt to get the corner and fall down in his attempt to round it out. You never really see that explosion around an offensive tackle’s hip. That really limits his potential as a pass rusher. I wonder if his balance issues are a result of putting on too much weight too fast and he just has to get used to it. If he’s going to be more successful he has to maintain leverage and be more physical with his hands. He has fantastic length, he should use it. If his balance improves, I believe he has the athletic ability to develop a good inside side step move and keep himself free with his length. His length will be the key to his pass rush. He can be very agile for his size and it makes himself slippery squeezing through cracks in defense. It’s fair to say he’s just scratching the surface on his potential as a complete player. He still has room to add some more strength as well.
Overall, Clelin is a guy with a very bright future. You have to give him the benefit of the doubt because he was only a redshirt freshmen. He did so well last year in his role and the fact he still has so much to improve on makes him one of the most intriguing players in college football next year. His length, agility, and mindset as an edge setter will make him very likable during the draft process. I’m not entirely sold we’ll be seeing Ferrell in the 2018 NFL Draft though. If you are expecting Ferrell to be a pass rush specialist, you’ll be disappointed but he’s an excellent young edge setter in a 4-3 defense. Clemson just keeps the defensive line prospects coming.
I see him as a guy you can use on rushing downs to help you set the edge. If you want a guy who just explodes up-field, this isn’t your guy. As Dallas Cowboys fans know well or at least will learn, Taco Charlton is a pretty similar build and play style. It’s quite uncertain what the Cowboys truly look for in their 4-3 DE but they valued length in Taco vs explosion in TJ Watt during the 2017 draft. If that remains true, you should be keeping a serious eye out for Ferrell this season. Teams will look at him as a 4-3 DE, probably weak side on rushing plays, strong side on passing plays.
Potential Late 1st Round
Early-Mid Second Round
Highlights/Spring Practice Mic’d Up video
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