The Pittsburgh Steelers could take an inside linebacker with the 20th pick in this years draft. Devin Bush is the favorite. Don’t rule out Mack Wilson either. Corner can’t be completely discounted with names like Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy in the mix. The dimebacker could be addressed and hey, a wide receiver wouldn’t look too bad holding that first jersey either.
What if their pick is none of the above? A wildcard, someone completely off our radar? That’s basically what happened with Terrell Edmunds, thought to be a second round pick. Ditto Artie Burns.
Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell is a first round candidate. And he might just land in the Steelers’ lap.
Going by history, the Steelers last nine first round selections, have largely been underclassmen with Kevin Colbert and/or Mike Tomlin visiting at their Pro Day. By now, I imagine you know that. Based off their schedule this year, there’s only one or two significant Pro Days remaining, finding a first round pick from that group isn’t easy. Bush is the obvious name but if not him, then who? Here are the names who fit.
On that list are first round stretches, like Mullen, Love, and Omenihu, and corner doesn’t seem super likely at this point, taking out Williams. White is certain to be off the board so let’s eliminate him and I don’t like the chances of Bush being there at 20. That leaves us with:
Of those three, Ferrell would seem to have the best value as a sure-first first round pick. A recent NFL.com mock has him going 24th to Oakland. Outside linebacker isn’t the highest position of need but it’s one that could be addressed and bring short and long-term value. There’s no defined #3 and Bud Dupree is in the last year of his contract. Drafting Ferrell gives the team flexibility next offseason, the ability to let Dupree walk if that’s the best decision. Given what he’ll cost, it probably will be.
And in some ways, you probably won’t want to hear this, Ferrell reminds me of Dupree. They’re both big, long pass rushers, though Dupree is safely the more intriguing athlete coming out. At his Pro Day, Ferrell weighed in 6’4, 264, nearly identical to Dupree (6’4 269) with better length, 34 1/2 inch arms.
While some could view him as a 4-3 edge, with the way schemes and the defensive end/outside linebacker distinction blurred, it doesn’t matter as much now as it did even five years ago. T.J. Watt dropped into coverage 20% last year, Dupree lower than that. If your guy can stand up and rush the passer, he’s in play.
Generally, the team likes their first rounders to be productive and he checks that box, a two-time AP All-American with more than 50 career TFL and 27 total sacks. He seems to check the “hearts and smarts” demand too, voted a permanent team captain last year. Ferrell comes from a strong family background, mother and father – his dad sadly passed of cancer in 2012 – with a combined 46 years of service in the Army. Aside from a mildly rebellious childhood, I can’t find any bad things said or written about the guy.
Obviously, it’s pretty clear if the Steelers can get Devin Bush, they’ll draft him. But if he’s not an option and they need a Plan B, Ferrell makes as much sense as any other name you could offer.