Green Bay Packers: Clelin Ferrell prospect breakdown

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /

The Green Bay Packers have a hole on the edge. With EDGE rusher being a key piece to building your roster, why not add a proven player early in the draft?

The Green Bay Packers have a need at the edge rusher spot, and when they go on the clock with the 12th overall pick, there will be a number of options for them to address that need. One player that will likely make them take a long look if he is there, is former Clemson Tiger Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell gives the team versatility that they haven’t had since the early days after Julius Peppers joined the team.

Ferrell has a combination of size and speed that make him tough for offensive tackles to handle, and he can do more than just play outside. Muhammad Wilkerson is slated to be a free agent this offseason, and, while he is hoping to return, the team could allow him to walk and select Ferrell to play the defensive end spot in the base defense before flexing him to the edge in obvious passing situations.

Ferrell isn’t the most exciting prospect in the class compared to players like Jachai Polite out of Florida or Josh Allen out of Kentucky, but he has been one of the most consistent producers in college since he arrived on campus a few years ago. He has the ability to rush the passer, but he is also stout against the run. The Green Bay Packers need guys like this that can do more than just one thing, which is why Ferrell is a perfect fit for them.

Ferrell’s burst off the ball makes it impossible for the pulling tight end to get to him, and he swallows up the running back for a big loss on first down in the red zone. In his three years as a starter at Clemson, the team got better every year at defending the run. They finished 23rd, 12th, and fifth between 2016 through 2018. Ferrell made plays like this on a regular basis, and his leadership on that side of the ball helped shape them into one of the NCAA’s best defenses.

Does he get the tackle on this play? No, he doesn’t. Does he have an amazing impact on the play anyway? Absolutely. Ferrell finishes the play two yards in the backfield, and he forced the running back to change his course where the help was waiting to stop him on third and short. The Packers run defense used to be one of their strengths, and Ferrell can help them get back there with plays like this.

Much has been made about Polite’s elite first step. I even noted it in an article last week, but, for his size, Ferrell’s is pretty good. He gets off the ball and punches opposing tackles in the chest which forces them off-balance early. Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears showed the dominance of his strength and speed all year, so why don’t the Green Bay Packers get a guy who can do some similar things to force opposing quarterbacks to get the ball out of their hands?

Ferrell gets by his man so fast that the quarterback doesn’t have time to react, and the tackle is just standing there watching his quarterback get wrapped up like a tackling dummy. Ferrell uses his speed and power to set up his finesse moves. It’s rare for a player to possess this skill set, but Ferrell falls into that group. Green Bay fans would love to watch Ferrell ripping through Minnesota Vikings offensive linemen to take down the $84 million man Kirk Cousins for years to come.

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Ferrell has his limitations in the athleticism department. He’s not slow or purely a power guy, but he’s not the twitchy athlete that guys like Allen and Polite are. His moves help him late in games when his strength helps carry him against tired linemen. If he’s still on the board at 12, the Green Bay Packers will have to make strong considerations to take this Clemson product to help fill their EDGE defender role.