NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell

From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#99 Clelin Ferrell / EDGE Clemson – 6’4” 264

The Good:

  • Good first step and gets his hands up in good position
  • Diagnoses and reacts quickly to run blocking schemes
  • Stout run defender who can set the edge and stack and shed
  • Scheme diverse able to play in 1 or 2 gap defense
  • Converts speed to power pass rush well
  • Uses good pad level and leverage to bull OL
  • Good quickness on inside pass rush moves
  • Has some experience in Zone coverage

The Bad:

  • Only played on the right side
  • COD is adequate after a few steps of acceleration allowing ball carriers to sidestep him
  • Will miss with his hands opening up his chest
  • Not a real speed rush threat and doesn’t bend around the corner well
  • Coverage was primarily spot drops and COD limits his range


  • Career – 166 tackles, 84 solo, 50.5 TFL, 27 sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FR for TD, 5 FF
  • 2018 – 55 tackles, 29 solo, 20 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR for TD, 3 FF
  • 3 year starter with 44 starts in 44 games
  • Two-time, first-team AP All-American
  • 2018 Ted Hendricks Award, awarded to the nation’s top defensive end; ACC Defensive Player of the Year
  • Team Captain
  • Played Basketball in high school
  • Majoring in sports communication

Tape Breakdown:

After the bowl games were over and the mock drafts started to come out it seemed Clelin Ferrell (#99) would be long gone before the Steelers drafted in the first round. As draft boards have been adjusted Ferrell is showing up more often in the mid to late first round.

He’s got very good size and arm length (34 1/8 inches) and at the Combine he performed some of the agility drills finishing with middle of the road numbers. A highly productive 3 years starter on the National Champion Clemson defense collecting 50.5 tackles for a loss and 27 sacks over 44 games, all starts. He lined up from the 4i out to the 7 techniques but only on the right side.

Against the run he performed impressively. He plays with good leverage uses his long arms to hold off potential blockers. On runs his way he sets the edge well and has the strength to shed blockers and make plays in the gap and can hold his own to anchor vs double team blocks. On runs away from him he plays under control to not over pursue and will slide down the LOS to make plays from the backside. He’ll also use his quickness and arm over to beat the OT through the B gap into the backfield. When he gets moving north and south he can be sidestepped by runners as his COD is limited when he gets up to speed.

At North Carolina State he resets the edge driving the LT 2 yards back and sheds to make a tackle for a loss on the runner. Anybody recognize that RB?

At North Carolina State it’s a run fake away from him. He stays square and slides to his left. He stays assignment sounds and as QB bootlegs out and he’s able to chase him down.

Vs Notre Dame he uses a quick swim to beat the LT to the inside to make the tackle.

Vs Alabama near the goal line Alabama leave a TE alone to block him. Ferrell puts his right hand into his chest to drive him back and uses his left arm to corral the RB.

As a pass rusher he’ll use a variety of moves to try and get to the QB. He uses his strength and leverage on power rushes with quick hands to stun the blockers chest and lower body strength to drive him into the QB’s lap.  Bull rushes, long arms and converting speed to power were all used successfully. He’ll also use quickness to the inside mainly with slap/swim or a spin to counter tackles setting to far outside. He’s not a speed rusher and doesn’t threaten up the arc as much as you’d like from and edge. He’s not particularly bendy or flexible but will win out there occasionally. He showed solid lateral agility and acceleration on twist to the inside.

At Texas A&M it looks like he uses a double chop to the inside to get the LT off balance and gets the sack and forces a turnover.

At Texas A&M he uses a long arm into the chest to get up the outside edge. You can see he isn’t very flexible but gets the sack anyway.

At Boston College he’s looping inside on a stunt. He loses his footing but still is able to grab the QB.

Vs Alabama it looks like he tries to chop the hands of LT Jonah Williams (#73) and is able to get the leverage under his pads and drive over him to get the pressure.

He was used occasionally to drop into Zone coverage in the curl/flat zone and displayed good awareness on screens and picking up the RB out of the backfield on swing passes and even run with a wheel route on occasion.

Vs Notre Dame he’s in a 2 point stance and starts his rush but seeing the RB release out he aborts his rush and makes sure the RB isn’t a viable option.

Vs Notre Dame the COD is solid as long as he’s not moving too fast. Again he aborts his rush to cover the RB this time he runs with him on the wheel. Solid effort.

Ferrell is heck of a football player and should become a starter wherever he lands.  He’s scheme diverse and can play in a 1 gap or 2 gap schemes. He played in a four man front in college so he can handle that and he can play in a three man front as long as you don’t expect too much in coverage limiting him to short area coverage. I didn’t see him as an option for Pittsburgh early on but I could see them giving him a good look being a red shirt junior who won’t be 22 until May.

Projection:  Mid to late 1st

Games Watched:  2017 – At N.C. State; 2018 – At Texas A&M, At Boston College Vs Notre Dame, Vs Alabama

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