Long before he was named the Raiders general manager, Mike Mayock had his eye on Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell. While he was preparing for NFL Network’s draft coverage in the fall, Mayock studied the two-time First-Team All-American and was reminded of a former top pick.
“He’s what I call a glue player,” Mayock said of Ferrell in a conversation with Sports Illustrated. “I looked at Ferrell back in September and October, and I watched three or four tapes and at the bottom of my notes, I wrote ‘glue/Chris Long.’ That’s the kind of guy, to me, who has more value than you can even put a number on. Chris hung in there, ended up in New England, gets a Super Bowl, goes to Philadelphia, gets another. Chris Long’s a glue guy. And I think Cle’ is also.”
Both players had productive collegiate careers and are of similar stature, but it was their effort, leadership, and ability to impact both the pass and run game that stood out to Mayock.
“If you remember when Chris Long got drafted by St. Louis, he was the second pick, and when they drafted him, I knew the kind of player they were getting,” Mayock continued. “Now, they were never able to successfully bring other guys around him, but Chris Long played his butt off every snap of every game, he set a physical edge in the run game, he got his 7, 8, 9, 10 sacks, and he energizes a locker room.”
Ferrell wasn’t a top-five talent on every team’s board. But once Nick Bosa was drafted second overall, the Clemson senior became the top defensive end on the Raiders’ board because he was a fit for their scheme and culture they want to establish.
“He’s a foundation player,” Mayock explained. “And even more importantly, he’s a three-down defensive end who can stick his hand in the dirt and play on run downs and pass downs. He’s not a guy who’s going to be a designated pass-rusher. He’s in there on every snap. And he’s gonna set the tone for us, as far as these young guys are concerned. I couldn’t wait to get to that pick.”
In a perfect world, Mayock and the Raiders would have loved to trade down and still draft Ferrell, but with no offers, they were content selecting him fourth overall. He wasn’t the right pick for every team, but he was the “glue player” the Raiders so desperately needed.