ALAMEDA – The Raiders surprised most everyone by taking Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick.
There's no reason to raise an eyebrow at his talent level, college production or Raiders defensive scheme fit. There aren't red flags to find with this grinder raised in a military family. He fills the team's most pressing need rushing off the edge.
Curiosity comes solely from the draft slot. He was projected to go after several edge rushers still available when the Raiders picked, but the Raiders had a different draft ranking.
Theirs is the only one that matters.
They wanted Nick Bosa, who went No. 2 to San Francisco. They wanted Quinnen Williams, who went No. 3 to the New York Jets. The Raiders went with a safe, steady player expected to be productive at the NFL level. He doesn't have the raw athleticism of some other defensive ends in the draft, but he produces. He's reliable. He's a stand-up guy with great character. He's a pro's pro, with an arsenal of pass-rush moves already at his disposal.
"It surprised me," Ferrell said. "It surprised a lot of people. ...It was a great honor to be taken at that moment. I'm just so excited. I can't wait to be a part of this franchise."
He was projected to be available far later in the first round, likely a mid-round pick who might've been available as deep as the team's two other first-round picks at Nos. 24 and 27 overall. A trade down to the early teens could've still netted Ferrell, in theory anyway.
All it would take is one team as in love with Ferrell as the Raiders to dash their grand plan to pick the Clemson alum. There were no trades. The Raiders took Ferrell at No. 4 overall.
They did so with Josh Allen still on the board. The Raiders didn't consider the Kentucky edge rusher, a good fit.
The Raiders were believed to like Oliver, but he didn't fill as pressing a need with promising three technique Maurice Hurst already on the roster.
The Raiders went with a guy they could trust at a pick they had in front of them, even if those on the outside considered it a reach. Time will tell if it was, as we compared NFL production to 4-3 edge rushers taken above and below Ferrell, who owns the No. 4 slot.
The Raiders would be thrilled with a repeat of his college production. He had 27 sacks and 50.5 tackles for a loss in three college seasons, and consistently proved capable of creating havoc off the edge. The Raiders need production above all else rushing the passer, and Ferrell can deliver that. He also works to set the edge in the run game and could be an every-down player right away. The Raiders certainly need that a position of great need, after totaling just 13 sacks a year ago.