There will be a lot of auditioning and evaluating in the final two games of the season for the Las Vegas Raiders and former top pick Clelin Ferrell will be near the top of the list.
With Chandler Jones dealing with an elbow injury, Ferrell will likely get a chance to play extensively Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and in Week 18 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ferrell, the No. 4 overall pick in 2019, took over for Jones after he got injured early in the third quarter. He had a tackle for loss and a pass defense in a limited role.
Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was impressed by Ferrell’s work.
“The big thing for Cle for me, he’s a big physical body. Play big and physical, do that. Usually when you put somebody in a category, you want him to do that. I mean, he’s done that. He did a good job setting the edge,” Grahama told reporters this week. “He had a few plays where he power rushed their tackle. Made a play in the pass game getting his hands up. Then we asked him to drop in coverage. The good thing about Cle is that he could wear multiple hats. And whenever you got a guy like that on the edge, that helps you, because it helps you with disguise, it helps you with what you can do defensively. And then he’s really taken hold of just studying and just understanding his role, whether it’s in the pass rush, whether it’s in the run game, the different positions he’s playing. He’s really doing a good job being studious and diligent working at it, and I couldn’t be happier with that. And then we got a big challenge this week because all those guys on the edge are going to get tested. One, you got to deal with Trent [Williams], who’s the best in the league probably. I mean, he’s a point of attack tackle. You got all the formations and all the adjustments that Kyle’s going to throw at you, which is always interesting. One thing he’s going to do, he’s going to run the ball. So, we got a big challenge in front of us. Last week, we had a challenge with Pittsburgh and thankfully we did some good things in the run. We got some stuff to clean up. But this week is going to be a big challenge. They got big men blocking, they got good backs running the ball. They present a lot of different challenges with the looks. So, it’s going to be a challenge. You look forward to that. That’s why we got into this profession.”
Prior to the season, the Raiders declined to exercise Ferrell’s fifth-year option, making him a free agent in March. Perhaps the Raiders will be interested in keeping Ferrell with a modest, short-term deal to be a backup.
While he has flashed some, like against the Steelers, Ferrell hasn’t made a big impact this year or during his career with the Raiders. He has one sack and six tackles in 14 games this season and just nine sacks and 56 tackles in 56 games. Much, much more is expected, of course, from a No. 4 pick. But Ferrell should get a chance to make a final case with the Raiders.