Raiders' Rookie Ferrell Is Coming on Strong

Defensive end, who had rough spots early, is playing on par with some of the NFL’s best at his position in recent weeks

Oakland Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby has more sacks than Clelin Ferrell. He’s also been in on more tackles than his fellow rookie, who plays the same position. Crosby also has more tackles for loss and more quarterback hits.

The fact Crosby was a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan while Ferrell was the No. 4 overall choice in the draft out of powerhouse Clemson could lead some to view Ferrell as a bust.

But that might be a way-too-early assessment.

While Crosby’s 8½ sacks are five more than Ferrell (who hasn’t had a sack since Nov. 7), Ferrell actually has been performing at his highest level in November and December.

As a story on Fansided’s Just Blog Baby website noted this week, “something has clicked for the 4th overall pick.”

Playing primarily on first and second downs, Ferrell has been graded by the analytic website Pro Football Focus as playing well against the run, yet also providing better pressure in pass-rush opportunities, though he’s had only 83 rushes over his past five games.

Ferrell’s performance grade from Pro Football Focus is the highest among all rookie defensive linemen in the NFL over that period. Pro Football Focus reported his grade each game improved from Weeks 11 to 15, which included a terrific game against the Jaguars when his disruption up front helped limit star running back Leonard Fournette to just 42 yards on 15 carries.

Wrote PFF of Ferrell’s recent play, the day after his Jaguars performance: “Ferrell’s elite 90.8 overall grade yesterday led all #Raiders over his 23 snaps! The last four weeks have been his four highest-graded games. Since Week 12 his 84.8 overall grade is fifth among all edge defenders.”

Austin Boyd of this week wrote that Crosby and Ferrell “could form a formidable duo for years to come.”

Ferrell and the 6-8 Raiders travel to Los Angeles to take on the 5-9 Chargers Sunday, still with a remote chance to qualify for the playoffs – if they win this week and next and several other teams falter.

Sunday’s kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. The Chargers are 7-point favorites.

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