ALAMEDA – The Raiders surprised most everyone by taking Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick.
There’s no reason to raise an eyebrow at his talent level, college production or Raiders defensive scheme fit. There aren’t red flags to find with this grinder raised in a military family. He fills the team’s most pressing need rushing off the edge.
Curiosity comes solely from the draft slot. He was projected to go after several edge rushers still available when the Raiders picked, but the Raiders had a different draft ranking.
Theirs is the only one that matters.
Coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock wanted Nick Bosa, who went No. 2 to San Francisco. They wanted Quinnen Williams, who went No. 3 to the New York Jets.
With both off the board, the Raiders went with a safe, steady player expected to be productive at the NFL level. He doesn’t have the raw athleticism of some other defensive ends in the draft, but he produces. He’s reliable. He’s a stand-up guy with great character. He’s a pro’s pro, with an arsenal of pass-rush moves already at his disposal.
Gruden and Mayock would be thrilled with a repeat of his college production. Ferrell had 27 sacks and 50.5 tackles for a loss in three college seasons and consistently proved capable of creating havoc off the edge. The Raiders need instant production, and Ferrell can deliver that. He also works to set the edge in the run game and could be an every-down player right away. The Raiders certainly need that a position of great need, after totaling just 13 sacks a year ago.
“It surprised me,” Ferrell said of going No. 4 overall. “It surprised a lot of people. ...It was a great honor to be taken at that moment. I’m just so excited. I can’t wait to be a part of this franchise.”
He was projected to be available far later in the first round, likely a mid-round pick who might’ve been available as deep as the team’s two other first-round picks at Nos. 24 and 27 overall. A trade down to the early teens could’ve still netted Ferrell -- in theory, anyway.
All it would take is one team as in love with Ferrell as the Raiders to dash their grand plan to pick the Clemson alum.
There were no trades. The Raiders took Ferrell at No. 4 overall.
Oakland did so with Josh Allen still on the board. The Raiders didn’t consider the Kentucky edge rusher, a good fit, who ended up going No. 7 to the Jaguars.
The Raiders were believed to like Oliver, but he didn’t fill as pressing of a need with promising three-technique Maurice Hurst already on the roster.
[RELATED: Ferrell wants to be what Aldon Smith should have been]
Gruden and Mayock went with a guy they could trust at a pick they had in front of them, even if those on the outside considered it a reach.
Time will tell if it was.