The San Francisco 49ers could feasibly trade down in the 2019 NFL Draft from No. 2 overall, opening up the door for targeting Clemson EDGE Clelin Ferrell in Round 1.
Ferrell might have been in consideration for a top-five draft billing at the beginning of 2018, particularly with just how strong Clemson’s defensive line was entering the year. And for most of his junior year, Ferrell looked the part of being a shoo-in top-10 talent. Yet he fell off a bit down the stretch before a solid showing in Clemson’s victory over Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship game.
While the Niners won’t use that second-overall pick on Ferrell, there’s always the real chance general manager John Lynch trades out of that spot — a reality made more notable with the number of quarterback-needy teams paired with the smallish about of NFL-ready signal-callers available.
So, should San Francisco elect this route is the one to take, grabbing a player of Ferrell’s caliber after such a trade down wouldn’t be a bad idea. In fact, it could be a smart one.
Despite his late-season slowdown, one could say Ferrell’s overall efforts improved with each passing year. It seems to be the case on paper, at least, for the 6-foot-5 and 260-pound EDGE.
Again, Ferrell won’t wind up in the top five where the 49ers are drafting, perhaps not even in the top 10. But if the Niners do execute a trade down, of sorts, here’s what he could bring to the proverbial prospect table.
An ACC scout I talk to periodically told me Ferrell is, perhaps, the most complete player out of this year’s draft-eligible EDGEs. It’s an understandable argument. Ferrell isn’t just your prototypical pass-rusher. He’s excellent in run defense, and you’ll often see him tracking down opponents’ ball carriers from behind.
This suggests Ferrell can be an every-down defender at the pro level, and not just your situational pass-rusher.
But Ferrell’s pass-rushing abilities are going to be what makes or breaks him. As shown in the Pro Football Focus video above, you can see the violent hand movement that he uses to great effect on opposing blockers. And he has a variety of pass-rushing moves, too, all of which are of the pro variety.
On top of that, Ferrell can fit in on either side of a 3-4 or 4-3 base, as our friend Aaron Gershon of With the First Pick pointed out. Clemson moved Ferrell around enough, and that versatility can go a long way.
While Ferrell’s run-stopping and pass-rushing moves are exceptional, the speed and pure burst just aren’t quite there. Ferrell is fairly slow off the snap, which forces him to rely more on his handfighting and strength as opposed to straight-line speed.
This could be a drawback at the NFL level, when factoring in bigger and better offensive linemen, along with quarterbacks delivering the ball quicker than at the college ranks.
That same ACC scout also pointed out a tendency where Ferrell can play a bit too high, not using his strength all the time to generate leverage when working one on one with a blocker.
That last part is coachable, however, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Ferrell develop some of his technique.
Fit with the 49ers
Many a mock NFL Draft out there have Ferrell either cracking into the lower half of the top 10 or going somewhere in the teens. Should the 49ers decide Ferrell is the guy they want to get in Round 1, it would mandate a trade down from No. 2 overall.
That would be fine, as an outside pass-rusher is arguably San Francisco’s biggest offseason need.
This could easily be the fallback option for the Niners, particularly if they miss out on Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa and decide Kentucky’s Josh Allen isn’t the right choice at No. 2 overall.
Ferrell’s abilities against the run could also make him a shoo-in to start as an every-down player for San Francisco right out of the gate, which is also a bonus.
So, if you see the 49ers trade down when the draft kicks off, don’t rule out a possible Ferrell-to-San Francisco pairing.