Raiders' Clelin Ferrell Will Be Under the Microscope

The selection of the defensive end with the No. 4 overall pick of the draft is seen by some as a reach and the team's most risky move of this offseason

The Raiders’ multitude of offseason moves included adding wide receiver Antonio Brown and guard Richie Incognito.

Both players are talented, but come with question marks. In the case of Incognito, a truckload of question marks.

Yet neither may be Oakland’s riskiest move to upgrade its roster since the 2018 season ended with a 4-12 record.

According to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, that honor goes to the selection of Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth choice in Round 1 of the NFL draft this spring.

Because the Raiders’ pass rush was the team’s weakest link, Oakland needed to bring in as much talent as possible for the defensive front. The fact the Raiders selected Ferrell, who was projected by most analysts to be a later first-round pick, leaves the team’s brain trust open to second guessing.

Wrote Knox this week: "This was a surprising selection, as well as a risky one. On one hand, the Raiders got the guy they wanted. On the other, they passed on elite (pass rush) prospects like Devin White, Ed Oliver and Josh Allen to do so.

"If Ferrell develops into an elite edge-rusher, great. If he doesn’t and one of those other players becomes a perennial All-Pro, then the evaluation prowess of both head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will be called into question.

"Give Oakland credit for marching to its own beat, but recognize picking Ferrell at four was a gamble."

The Raiders had just 13 sacks in 2018, the worst total in the NFL, and are counting on Ferrell to start at one defensive end, with either second-year man Arden Key or rookie Maxx Crosby at the other. All three players have a lot to prove.

So far, the Raiders like what they see of all three.

But when training camp opens later this month, Ferrell will be the one under the brightest spotlight. He’ll need to flash elite talent or the Raiders will be in trouble.

Mayock, however, believes the Raiders got the right man for the job. They point to his character, work ethic and history of success.

Mayock calls him a "foundation player" who can play every down and excel vs. the pass or the run and will "set the tone for us" on defense.

Said Mayock: "I couldn’t wait to get to that pick."

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