Since Raiders training camp began defensive end Clelin Ferrell has been playing with the second team defense while Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby have run with the first team. Today training camp came to an end. And that depth chart remains unchanged.
“So, we’re trying to develop that second tier rush group; the guys that can come in and keep the first group fresh,” Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of Ferrell and Carl Nassib. “And kind of make it where they all have a role, they all feel like they’re part of it. That’s where we’re at now; seeing who’s the best matchup, who’s that second group that can come in and provide that rush that we need.”
Seeing your former fourth overall pick relegated to backup is not ideal heading into his third NFL season, but that’s where the Raiders are. Ferrell never developed into the edge rushing presence that would justify a starting job, let alone his draft status. And it would be foolhardy to continue to put him out there full time just because of that draft status. Not three years in.
The bright side of this, if you’re looking for one, is the Raiders are in more of a position to make the decision to make Ferrell a backup with his 6.5 sacks in two seasons. They have his draft classmate Maxx Crosby (4th round) and his 17 career sacks along with newcomer Yannick Ngakoue with his 16 sacks the past two seasons.
Their presence allows the Raiders to find the right moments to insert Ferrell into the game that can best utilize his skillset. Toss Nassib into the mix, and the Raiders are hoping they have a rotation that will keep opposing offenses guessing.
“Cle is a little bit unique for us because he can rush outside and inside,” Bradley continued. “And again, when you’re a tackle and you’re like ‘Ok, I gotta prepare for Maxx, now I gotta prepare for Yannick, now I gotta prepare for Cle, now Carl.’ If you can get that dispersed in two groups, it’s just a lot of preparation for a tackle. They can’t just hone in on one guy when they all have different styles. We’re hoping that’s beneficial for us.”
This isn’t the first time it has been mentioned that Ferrell can rush inside and outside. At the beginning of camp, Jon Gruden said Ferrell may even be a better inside rusher. But currently he isn’t in the mix for work at the 3-tech DT spot or really even the 5-tech DE spot. The team brought in several others to compete there including Gerald McCoy, Solomon Thomas, Darius Philon, and Quinton Jefferson.
Basically, don’t expect that this simply means Ferrell will move inside full time either.
Again, not what anyone hoped from a fourth overall pick, but good on Bradley to come in here and not feel obligated to keep Ferrell as a full time starter. And having your edge rushers fresh late in games could lead to scrounging up some sacks too.
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