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Buccaneers Draft Profile: Edge, Clelin Ferrell

Could the Buccaneers look to the National Champions for pass rush help?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As our draft profiles wind down we continue to look at those that will help on the defensive side of the ball as first round targets. Whether that’s someone to fill the shoes of Gerald McCoy, an inside linebacker to be the new anchor of the defense, help in the secondary, or an edge presence it seems a foregone conclusion that defense will be the side of the ball addressed first.

At least, that’s what we all believe.

The Bucs finally had their first double-digit sack player for the first time since 2007 when Jason Pierre-Paul broke the drought last year, but what about this new look scheme? Will JPP and Carl Nassib be outside linebackers? Will they put their hands in the dirt and play 3-4 defensive ends? And they certainly can’t do it alone no matter where they line up. The Bucs need help setting the edges and getting after the quarterback.

Time to take a look at a potential target in round one from the defending National Champion Clemson Tigers.

Clelin Ferrell’s Career

Ferrell was a three year starter at Clemson and finished his career with 166 tackles, 50.5 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, five passes defensed, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown. He was a 2018 consensus All-American and the 2018 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Ferrell finished with the most tackles for loss in the ACC - ninth most in all of college football - as well as first in the ACC in sacks in 2018 (11.5), good for sixth most in the NCAA.

Pros

The 6’5”, 260lb defensive end has one of the best get-offs in the draft. His one step burst off the snap has made him the weapon he is and is a big reason he’s a first round talent. The moment Ferrell is drafted, he’s an immediate starter and will help whatever team takes him from the word go. He has an arsenal of weapons to get off of blocks and continue his pursuit to the ball, making him more than just a typical speed or power guy. Though he’s not elite at any of them, he’s very good at all of them. With some refining and proper development, he can become one of the most dangerous and versatile edge rushers in the league.

He has a knack for disrupting tight ends off the line which has caused disruption in opposing offense’s pass plays thus creating opportunities for his team to make plays. Quick hands, prototypical frame, and long arms give him an advantage against opposing blockers.

Cons

With all these great things, why isn’t Ferrell being spoken about more than he is? He almost seems like the forgotten man as far as defensive linemen are concerned. Well, his initial burst is great but after that he has a tendency to slow down, allowing blockers to recover. He is at times very robotic in his movements rather than being as fluid and elusive as he could be. That initial burst he has also needs to be the burst that he finishes with. Too much slowing down after the snap to be as dominant as he could be. He’s stiff off the edge, with little to no bend - almost as if he doesn’t trust his feet to keep him upright when taking those sharp angles around blockers.

And, don’t forget that he suffered a torn ACL in 2014. Although those don’t carry the concern they once did, it is still a concern nonetheless.

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

Well, here’s the thing - they could certainly use a player like Ferrell in terms of his raw ability, his speed off the snap, his playmaking skill set - but does he translate to what they’re doing defensively?

He’s listed as an edge rusher and has shown the athleticism to do most anything but he’s done his damage as a 4-3 defensive end with his hand in the dirt. Can that translate to a 3-4 defensive end? Outisde linebacker? One would hope so, but there are no guarantees. Think back to how confident the team - and the fans - were that Noah Spence could succeed switching from a 3-4 outisde linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end. It was a disaster. Would the Bucs be willing to risk that with a first round pick that they absolutely can not miss on?

They have the staff in place to develop him and take his game to the next level. It’s simply a matter of scheming to the players’ strengths which theyve said time and time again is exactly what they’re going to do.

Will It Happen?

There is definitely the possibility that it does, but this is another trade down scenario type of target. He won’t be the pick at number five and if they slide down with a team like the Dolphins, he could be their guy at thirteen. It seems as though Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Devin White, and Josh Allen are the guys the Bucs are honed in on, but if they aren’t there or the Bucs get an offer they can’t refuse so a team can leapfrog the Giants for a quarterback, Ferrell would be a solid addition to this defense - and an instant impact kind of player.