Clelin Ferrell attended Benedictine College Prep, which is located just outside of Richmond, Va. He was the No. 5 overall prospect in the state of Virginia according to Rivals. He did not play during his senior year of high school due to a torn ACL. This also caused him to redshirt during his first year at Clemson.
Ferrell completed his four years in Death Valley with two national championship rings. His production was also noteworthy. Ferrell finished his career with 27 sacks, 50 tackles-for-loss, and five forced fumbles. Due to an injury, he did not complete his full athletic testing at the Combine or at his pro day. He did post a 4.40 short shuttle, 7.26 3-cone, 25 bench press reps, and a 9.5’ broad jump.
Ferrell is not a complete edge rusher. His lack of bend and flexibility will be an issue at the next level, but he makes up for it with his powerful hand use and his signature inside move. Ferrell has a good understanding of how to use his length in the run game too.
Let’s first check out why his inside move is so lethal.
He catches the offensive tackle off balance by setting them up with a slight hesitation. Then, Ferrell demonstrates his advanced hand usage by swiping the tackle’s hands away before pressuring the quarterback.
Ferrell, again, uses the slight hesitation before swiping the tackle’s hands away with an inside move. He constantly targets the inside hand of the tackle, which gives him leverage to swipe the hands.
Ferrell has a diverse pass rush repertoire. His spin move is rather effective at times too. On this play, he starts with a speed rush, which sets up his spin move. He consistently disguises his inside moves with a speed rush. This is interesting because Ferrell did not display much success with this rush.
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.
Ferrell ultimately gets the sack on this play, but his initial rush before the quarterback scrambles isn’t good enough. Again, his lack of dip or bend around the edge shows up. His 3-cone, which measures agility and change of direction was below average. This shouldn’t be shocking, but it’s a concern.
As a run defender, Ferrell has more than enough positive traits. When he is setting the edge, he understands angles and body positioning to get the run to flow to the linebackers. Furthermore, he has enough functional strength to set the edge at the point of attack.
Ferrell is also not averse to attacking gaps by getting skinny. He maintains his leverage by getting underneath the blockers to force a tackle-for-loss.
His snap reaction allows him to be the first off the snap, but he also shows quickness to avoid any pull or down blocks.
Ferrell will be a productive edge rusher in the league. An edge rusher should win on the edge by displaying dip and bend. Ferrell rarely won with fluid bend at Clemson, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. He has violent hands, a diverse pass rush repertoire, and he’s a strong run defender.
Fit with Carolina
Ferrell is a prototypical defensive end who can set the edge and provide versatility as a pass rusher. However, with Ron Rivera taking the commands of the defense in 2019 it will be interesting to see their approach. If he’s opting for a more multiple defense, then a twitchy and explosive edge makes more sense than a guy like Ferrell. Ferrell doesn’t have the body size or strength to be a three-down 3-4 defensive end or the twitch and flexibility to be an outside edge rusher.
If Carolina does indeed draft him, that would signal that they will continue to approach their base packages with a 4-3 defense. I personally prefer other edge rushers over Ferrell, but I can see why others find his skill set appealing. This opinion might not be popular, but I would stay away from Ferrell in the top 16.