NAME: Clelin Ferrell
JERSEY: No. 99
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 260 lbs
Run Defense – Sets a consistently firm edge while leveraging his hips and maintaining outside leverage. Has the power needed to fight pressure with pressure and squeeze gaps. Plays and sees through blocks and diagnoses blocking schemes well. Excellent pursuing from the backside.
Pass Rush – Steps and stride length are in unison with his plan of attack and it makes him highly effective. His go-to move is a chop-rip that is executed with precise timing to counter the offensive tackles punch while diminishing his surface area that enables him to corner the edge track. Ferrell also showcases a potent spin and inside moves to complement his variety of hand techniques to soften angles and get after the passer. Takes good rush angles. Flexibility and burst are modest which limits his upside a touch.
Burst – Doesn’t have elite juice off the snap and his speed around the edge track is ordinary. Finishing burst is average at best. Not a candidate to simply win races around the arc and is reliant on technique.
Effort – Frequently makes hustle plays and rallies to the football. His motor is never not running hot but he does crank it up another notch on long and late downs. Works hard a backside run defender to stay home and then pursue. Forces blockers to work overtime to stay square. Deploys counters and battles to get off contact.
Hand Technique – Advanced understanding of how to use his hands to beat blocks, soften angles and keep his pads clean. Has a deep toolbox of counters at his disposal on every rep. Does well to read the set of the blocker and properly attack where they are most vulnerable.
Flexibility – Has enough flexibility in his lower half to corner the outside edge track but the angle must be greased. Change of direction skills are good but not great. Should not be asked to play regularly in space.
Processing – Processes blocks and finds the football with sharp play recognition skills. Technically sound and refined player. Experienced and it shows. Rarely caught out of position.
Play Strength – Has all the play strength needed to exchange power with offensive tackles, set the edge and anchor. Good power in his lower half to squeeze down. Converts speed to power well. Has the power needed to truly press a tight rush angle and work through contact.
Versatility – Ideally suited to function as a 4-3 defensive end that can play on either side. Has playmaking upside against the run and pass. Would not task him with space or stand up duties in a 3-4 alignment.
BEST TRAIT – Hand Usage/Power
WORST TRAIT – Burst
RED FLAGS – ACL Tear in 2014
Ferrell’s size, hand usage and power combined with his modest burst and flexibility makes him and ideal fit as a 4-3 defensive end. He plays with an unrelenting motor that pairs well with his play strength to make him a dominant run defender and potent pass rusher. He is reliant on technique as a pass rusher and won’t be able to win solely based on athletic ability. Given his experience and technical refinement, Ferrell should factor into the rotation early in his career with the upside to become a productive starter by Year 2/3.
First Step Quickness –Looks to have a little extra burst in 2018. Isn’t reliant on his release off the line but does possess enough quickness and snap anticipation to get out of the blocks quickly and stress tackles on vertical pass sets. Above average but not necessarily elite ground gained at the snap.
Hand Technique/Length –Hand placement is top shelf. Gets effective fits with length and consistently establishes first contact to keep his forward push as a rusher and/or reset the LOS. Shedding skills are strong due to good awareness of hitting the wrist and popping hands off of his frame.
Pass Rush Counters –Brings variety and well timed strikes. Flexible in his rush plans and can long arm tackles around the edge, rip/dip his way through a soft angle, work back inside with an arm over/shallow swim…pace of play is not a problem and effectively takes visual feedback to string together moves.
Flexibility –Lacks elite bend but does offer cornering skills and enough lean to drop his pad level underneath the hands of an OT off the edge and play through contact. Linear flexibility via hip drop and leverage anchoring at the LOS is notably better.
Run Defending –Stout and carries a lot of pop in his hands to negate drive blocks into his lap. Quick to process when left unblocked and does well to step down and diminish angles. Will wrong-arm pullers to slip inside and disrupt the ball carrier with good strength and effectiveness.
Competitive Toughness –Love his work at the LOS. Effective in stacking blockers and is very stout against the run. Takes contact well and is capable of plugging up gaps vs. linemen with momentum as pullers. Does well in second effort plays to peel back to the pocket and generate pressure.
Tackling –Lengthy, rangy tackler who carries ample influence on the edge. Capable of sustaining contain and integrity with outside arm even once engaged with a blocker. Confident in closing angles to step into his challenges with speed and forcibly jar the ball carrier.
Lateral Mobility –Plenty of range for a 4-3 DE, flips his hips and getting width to avoid conceding a soft corner. When left unattended has mobility to crash hard off of the back side and get back into the ball carrier’s hip, needs to be accounted for in blocking when running away from his side.
Stand Up Ability –Tasked with playing flexed out vs. trip to jam the LOS, play flat coverage in zone, rush from 2 pt. stance from the second level. Functional athleticism is adequate to continue reps in these areas at the next level but he’s a player you want playing often with hand down.
Football IQ –Savvy player who shows high processing speed against both the pass and run. Understands his strengths as a player and plays true to them, will win with power to diminish angles but is willing to hit finesse when tackles overset him or are slow out of the blocks.
BEST TRAIT – Hand Technique
WORST TRAIT – Stand Up Ability
BEST FILM – Texas A&M (2018)
WORST FILM – Virginia Tech (2017)
RED FLAGS – 2014 ACL Tear
Clelin Ferrell projects as a high impact defensive end at the NFL level. Ferrell is physically capable of exploding out of his three point stances but prefers to win with his hands on blockers as compared to relying on speed. His technical prowess, hands and transitional skills as a rusher will allow him to defeat well placed tackles off the edge. An ace run defender, Ferrell is a three down player immediately who should easily step into a starting role.
Burst – First step/early jump off the ball varies from really good to crazy good at times. Reaction to snap is terrific, but frustratingly does not carry that initial burst into his second and third steps, allowing the tackle to recover and protect the edge. Won’t threaten the edge with pure speed, relies on his hands to create a favorable angle to the pocket.
Bend – Adequate bend in the hips at best. Struggles to corner through contact and can get run up the arc even by light contact if he doesn’t eliminate his opponent’s hands. Will drop the inside shoulder and show some ankle flexibility at times, but generally relies on inside moves or hand work to win as a rusher.
Rush Moves – Deep arsenal of moves that make him tough to figure out off the snap. Ability to attack in a variety of ways coupled with his vision allows him to win as a pass rusher despite athletic limitations. Cross chops, rips, inside swims, stutter-steps and long arms are all arrows in his quiver. Powerful hands, has clubbed and bull rushed offensive linemen aside to get to the quarterback.
Counters – Ability to read pass sets is key to his game. Sets up offensive linemen with the speed rush before winning back across their face inside. Good timing and suddenness to his inside counters. Spin is tight and hasn’t been a super successful move for him, despite knowing when to use it.
Run Defense – Incredibly stout at the point of attack. Does not get pushed around, initially sets the edge strong with both hands inside his opponent’s chest, utilizing full arm extension to keep his frame clean. Allows for easy shed when his technique is right. Can get caught peaking inside as an edge setter and has attempted some aggressive backdoor maneuvers against outside zone, which he probably isn’t athletic enough to get away with a lot in the NFL.
Lateral Mobility – Dropped into coverage on occasion for Clemson, playing in flat zones only. Average lateral mobility when flat-footed in space, but plays on his toes as a rusher and maps out his inside counters on the move, allowing him to cross the tackle’s face just fine.
Mental Processing/Vision – Outstanding vision as a pass rusher, recognizes oversets and attacks them quickly. Eyes on the quarterback to find the fastest path to the pocket. Steps down when unblocked and finds pullers. Doesn’t bite too early on play-action rollouts, keeps edge contain.
Tackling/Finishing – Big tackle radius to consistently get opponents on the ground. Forced five fumbles over the past two years and was centimeters away from a few others. Forceful hitter when given the chance. Ability to finish in space against more athletic ball carriers is a slight concern.
Competitive Toughness – Elite competitor who takes no plays off. High-energy in all phases, vocal and emotional locker room leader. Physicality and toughness will not be questioned.
Athleticism/Size – Pro-ready build with excellent length. Decent athlete, but doesn’t have the flexibility and or speed you would like to see in an edge rusher.
BEST TRAIT – Pass Rush Moves
WORST TRAIT – Bend
RED FLAGS – None
A high floor prospect with a low ceiling, Clelin Ferrell has been productive for three seasons on one of the best defenses in college football, largely due to his array of pass rush moves and steady run defense. He can beat an offensive lineman in many ways, and should be an early three-down starter at defensive end in the NFL. Also, I wouldn’t rule out him being able to kick inside on long/late downs for a team that wants to get three quality edge rushers on the field.
Having said that, Ferrell’s athletic limitations will limit his scheme fit a little bit for teams that like to drop their edges, as well as inhibit his ability to win on the outside edge track as a pass rusher. I don’t think I’ve ever scouted an edge with second and third steps as bad as Ferrell’s when compared to how good his initial burst off the ball is. His lack of speed and bend will probably keep him from hitting first round-level numbers (double-digit sacks) on a seasonal basis, but Ferrell can help an NFL defense right away and provide a strong leadership presence in the locker room.