The Clemson Tigers’ defensive line is a unit the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles will have a close eye on this draft cycle. Depending on how the stars align with Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Timmy Jernigan and even Michael Bennett after 2020, the Eagles will need reinforcements in the trenches. Clemson has plenty to choose from.
The 2017 media hype surrounding their eligible trio of Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant didn’t match reality and all three ended up returning to school. Adding to that bunch is defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence who may be seen as a limited, run stuffing specialist. So they won’t have three top-10 picks and likely won’t have three first-round selections, but there is still a wealth of talent to work with.
I tuned in to watch the stacked group do their thing against Duke last night and was not disappointed. They were tasked with shutting down a rising quarterback that just put his name in the record books.
“In Duke’s 42-35 win over UNC, [Daniel Jones] accounted for a program-record 547 total yards and four touchdowns. He threw for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns while also adding 186 rushing yards.
The 547 yards of total offense were also the most ever given up by UNC, surpassing Lamar Jackson’s previous record of 525 set last year against the Heels.” - Joe Marino, The Draft Network
Against the Tigers, Jones had a rough day. The Duke offense was held to 6 points and Jones accumulated a pedestrian 24/43, 158-yard stat line. In fact, I was surprised to learn that Jones was being touted as a potential first round quarterback while watching this performance. Perhaps a big reason for the disparity in production was the Clemson line beating the Duke line like a drum, which should have been expected.
The best of the bunch, Ferrell comes in at a physically developed 6’5” 250 pounds with enticing three-down potential. A plus run defender with a screaming Honda S2000 engine, Ferrell comes with a complete game. His production is there too; he’s a third-year starter with 46.5 tackles for loss and 26 sacks in 40 games.
Ferrell’s success as a pass rush starts with his first-step quickness.
Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell gets a full step before anybody moves, finishes w/closing speed - pic.twitter.com/WxGWzcZBjK— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 18, 2018
On the day, Ferrell would amass 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss. He would also buy living space in the head of Duke’s left tackle.
And now you're in his head... pic.twitter.com/ebNSkigPlr— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 18, 2018
Ferrell doesn’t possess the mind-blowing bend of Tennessee Titans’ rookie Harold Landry, but he comes with a full toolbox of moves and a polished rush plan. His use of hands help hide his lack of elite bend as he regularly uses them to soften the corner and his inside moves are developed and must be respected by opposing tackles.
Ohio State’s EDGE Nick Bosa will be the headliner of the positions’ class, but Ferrell will be in the conversation with other top prospects like Kentucky’s Josh Allen, Florida’s Jachai Polite, Florida State’s Brian Burns, and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat.