NFL draft: Raiders' Jon Gruden pulls another surprise, takes Clelin Ferrell at fourth overall

The unpredictable Oakland Raiders made the first surprising pick of the NFL draft. Of course.

When the Raiders went on the clock at the fourth overall pick, everyone seemed to believe they would take Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen.

But the Raiders weren’t going to do the obvious thing. They took Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell instead, which nobody seemed to expect with the fourth pick.

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Say this about Jon Gruden and the Raiders: They’re going to do things their way. At least Ferrell can help fill the Raiders’ biggest need, which is pass rusher. That became a big issue after the team traded Khalil Mack, of course.

The Raiders picked Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99) with the fourth pick of the draft. (AP)
The Raiders picked Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99) with the fourth pick of the draft. (AP)

Was Clelin Ferrell a reach?

Ferrell is a good football player, of course. He was considered a first-round prospect by practically everyone. He was a productive, consistent player for a great Clemson program.

It just seemed a bit early. Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm had Ferrell as his 15th best prospect in the draft class. Many mock drafts had Ferrell in the first round, just not in the top four.

Ferrell is a good two-way player who can defend the run and pass. Ferrell was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. He had 53 tackles (19.5 for loss), 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles for a team that won a national title.

That’s what Gruden and his new general manager Mike Mayock are betting on.

Jon Gruden isn’t afraid to take chances

After last season, with the Mack trade and a year of off-the-wall moves that were mostly ridiculed, the Raiders could have played it safe.

Gruden came in his first year and was unconventional, and he didn’t listen to groupthink this time either. The Raiders need talent, especially on defense. In many ways Ferrell is a safe pick, a good all-around player who was consistently good for a tremendous program. It’s hard to believe he won’t be at least solid for the Raiders for many years.

But will he be great? Could he be the next Khalil Mack? How good Ferrell becomes will help define a hugely important draft for Gruden.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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