If all goes according to how ESPN draft expert Todd McShay thinks it should go, the Ravens will land a top pass rusher in the first round of this year’s draft.
McShay put together a best-case-scenario three-round mock draft and has Baltimore taking Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell at No. 22 (trades are not allowed).
After the loss of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, who combined for 15.5 sacks last year, Baltimore could use Ferrell’s help.
“I don’t know that he’s going to be a top 15-20 pick, but I do think he’ll be a first-round pick and I think he’ll be a steady, productive player in the league,” McShay said.
Ferrell has one attribute that the Ravens highly value in pass rushing prospects, and that’s production. Terrell Suggs set the NCAA career sacks record at Arizona State. Matthew Judon led the nation with 20 sacks in 2015 at Grand Valley State.
Ferrell also put up gaudy numbers with 27 sacks in three seasons, including 11.5 as a junior and 9.5 as a sophomore. He had a whopping 50.5 tackles for loss over his career.
“Clelin is just a really good football player,” McShay said. “You look at his [Combine testing] numbers and he doesn’t have the elite explosiveness, but he got better every year, his production was outstanding. Did he benefit from having two other potential first-rounders on the defensive line at Clemson? Sure. But he still had to produce and he did, week in and week out.”
The two defensive linemen that McShay referred to are Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence – two hulking tackles who gobbled up attention from opposing offensive lines. Part of the task for evaluators is to determine how much Ferrell benefitted from perhaps less attention.
The other part is measuring Ferrell’s explosiveness and how well it will translate to the NFL. The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder didn’t run the 40-yard dash or do any jumps at the Combine.
Ferrell has dominated at every level, however. He was an all-state star at Benedictine College Prep in Virginia, an all-male military school, before emerging on Clemson’s defense. He won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end on last year’s championship squad.
“The thing that stands out to me about Clelin is he learned how to use his hands to get off of blocks,” McShay said. “He’s going to show up, he loves the game, the coaching staff loves him and what he brings to the locker room. He’s going to be a team guy.”
McShay’s third-round picks for the Ravens are Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams (No. 85 overall) and New Mexico State running back Terrill Hanks (No. 102). McShay didn’t have a receiver in any of the first three picks.
McShay said Williams is the running back he likes most in the third round because he offers a wide range of value. The first-team All-SEC and second-team Associated Press All-American finished in the top five nationally with 1,524 rushing yards and scored 15 times on 252 carries. He also caught 27 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown.
“I don’t think he’s going to be exceptional, but I think he’s going to be a player that comes in and can do a bunch of different things and at the end of the season, you look and say, ‘This guy had 35-40 catches, he was in the rotation carrying the ball, he’s a tough guy and contributes on special teams,’” McShay said.
Hanks was another highly productive college player who piled up more than 100 tackles each of the past three seasons and finished his career with eight interceptions, seven forced fumbles, 11 sacks and 43.5 tackles for loss.
“Hanks is really good on tape, but just ran a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash,” McShay said.