The 2019 NFL Draft is flooded with high-level defensive linemen, but Clemson Tigers star Clelin Ferrell is clearly the premier pass rusher in his class.
The Clemson Tigers have unexpectedly emerged as one of the most dominant forces in college football. It’s a truth that’s taken form over the course of Dabo Swinney‘s 10 years at the helm, and year 11 could be as rewarding as any.
If the Tigers are going to climb back to the top of the rankings and secure a second National Championship in four years, Clelin Ferrell will be a significant reason why.
Ferrell could’ve entered the 2018 NFL Draft, but he opted to stay in school to earn his degree and honor his late father. Ferrell’s father, Cleavester Ferrell Sr., was a military man who earned a degree after serving in Vietnam, and instilled the same value of education in his children.
As Clelin Ferrell prepares for his senior year in college—and his redshirt junior season on the field—many quarterbacks are going to wish he’d made the leap to the NFL.
Ferrell is a force of nature, standing at 6’5″ and 260 pounds with a powerful frame and invigorating athleticism. He’s one of the rare college pass rushers who draws consistent double teams, and he still hasn’t put it all together.
Clemson defensive linemen carry a stigma in the NFL, but Ferrell deserves to be judged for the name on the back of the jersey—not the name on the front of it.
In 2017, Ferrell produced a season that even the most skeptical of scouts were impressed by. He recorded 66 tackles overall, including 18.0 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. That includes the 3.0 sacks he recorded in three games against SEC opponents.
Overall, Ferrell produced 45 quarterback pressures during his dominant 2017 season—the most of any returning ACC edge defender.
With all eyes on him, Ferrell will now have a chance to prove that the hype is warranted.
If Ferrell shows out in 2018, he’ll earn himself an invitation to the 2019 NFL Draft. More importantly: He’ll legitimize the excitement and potentially secure the opportunity to be a top-five draft pick next April.
That’s high praise with a full season to be played, but Ferrell is a special individual both on and off the field—and he’s still finding his game.
If the NFL is looking for the next great edge defender, Clelin Ferrell is a successful season away from being the unequivocal favorite for the crown.