Clemson's national title could be Clelin Ferrell's last act before NFL


Clemson's national title could be Clelin Ferrell's last act before NFL

SANTA CLARA -- Clelin Farrell just completed a perfect college football season.

Clemson’s star defensive end finished with double-digit sacks, was named a first-team All-American and won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top player at his position. His Tigers dominated Alabama 44-16 on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium to win the national college football championship.

Ferrell finished his redshirt junior season healthy, ready for whatever comes next.

“I’m not going to look back at this season not as an individual thing,” Ferrell said. “This was a journey with my teammates here at Clemson. To see us go out and do everything we set out to do and cap it by beating a great team, that means the world to us.”

It doesn’t get much better than that. It also might be the perfect end to an excellent college career. Ferrell can walk off a winner, and start preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft.

[RELATED: Raiders GM Mike Mayock already on NFL draft prep, scouts Alabama-Clemson]

He could be a Raiders selection at No. 4 overall, joining a team that desperately needs a polished edge rusher who's capable against the run and pass.

Ferrell wasn’t ready to turn pro just yet, even if that’s logical for someone who has achieved almost everything in college football, and is expected to be a top-10 pick.

The thrill of victory, after all, was still coursing through his veins.

“How can you leave this?” Ferrell said. ”Look around. How can you walk away from this team, this coaching staff? It’s going to be a tough decision, for sure.”

Maybe, maybe not when logic takes hold. Ferrell will allow that to happen before making his intentions public.

“I’ll take some time with family and think about it. I’ll talk to my coaches and come to a decision,” he said. “But I’m going to celebrate this one first. We’re going to celebrate for the next couple days. Any time you beat a team like that, you have to celebrate. I’ll come to a decision at the right time, when I can take the emotion out of it and put everything on the table.”

That should lead toward a decision that puts millions in his bank account. It didn’t happen Monday night, despite several opportunities for Ferrell to confirm he’s turning pro.

But he did sum up the Clemson season as well as anyone, using an apt, albeit crude analogy to describe the 2018 Tigers experience.

“It’s like taking a dump,” he said with a laugh. “We got the job done this season, and we got [to the title game]. But, if you don’t wipe, you’ll feel terrible. We wiped up tonight, so we feel great.”

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock reveals why he's OK with Raiders' NFL free agency spending

Mike Mayock always will be associated with the NFL draft. So it should come as no surprise that the former NFL Network draft analyst had to be convinced to improve the Raiders through free agency and trades.

NBC Sports' Peter King spoke with the Raiders general manager over the weekend and wrote about what Mayock told him in his Football Morning In America column.

So I’ve known Mayock for some time, and when we spoke Saturday night, he sounded like the same driven prospect-knower I’ve come to rely on in the last few years. “I’ll be honest,” he said. “I never believed in big spending in free agency. For years, that is not where my head was. But Jon Gruden and I spent a long, long time examining our team. We had so many team needs. We figured, we can go out and spend a little money on several positions. Or this year, we can look at three, four, five, six guys who can make a difference on the field and, as importantly, in the locker room. If we can get the guys we want, we should do it. We find a way to get Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson at receiver. We get a tackle, Trent Brown, 25 years old, who doesn’t even know how good he can be, who was lock-down, shutout in the playoffs for New England. We got Rodney Hudson at center, with a good young tackle, Kolton Miller, as the other tackle. We can line up and compete right now offensively.”

With the signings of Trent Brown, Williams, Joyner, Jon Feliciano, Josh Mauro and Nelson, the Raiders added just over $40 million to their 2019 salary. When you add the nearly $15 million that Anotnio Brown will make in 2019, Oakland has added $55 million worth of players for the upcoming season.

[RELATED: How AB trade almost didn't happen]

That definitely goes against Mayock's previous mindset. But as he's probably learning, you need veterans on the team in order to compete. And Gruden isn't about to throw away another year playing a bunch of rookies.

Why Raiders won award for Khalil Mack trade at MIT Sloan conference


Why Raiders won award for Khalil Mack trade at MIT Sloan conference

Daryl Morey is rooting for a team from ... Oakland?

The Houston Rockets general manager, whose Warriors obsession does not quite equate to fondness, told The Athletic's Vic Tafur he is "rooting for the Raiders" this season. The reason is even more surprising than the geography.

The Raiders won the Alpha Award at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston for "Best Transaction."

The deal?

Trading Khalil Mack (and a second-round pick) to the Chicago Bears for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020 and a third-round selection in 2020. 

“Everybody else thought it was a terrible trade, but draft picks are very valuable,” Morey told The Athletic over the phone Saturday. “Analytics tends to fly in the face of popular convention pretty often. We don’t care about what people say.”

Morey was a member of the voting panel and co-founded the conference. When he called Raiders president Marc Badain to tell him the Silver and Black took home the award, Badain thought it was a joke. 

"I had to tell him several times that I wasn't kidding," Morey said. "I guess they took a lot of heat for that."

That is an understatement. Mack finished the 2018 season with a half-a-sack fewer (12.5) than the Raiders did as a team (13), and made first-team All-Pro for the third time in the last four years. 

The 28-year-old also led the Bears to their first NFC North title (and a playoff berth) since 2010. That means the first-round selection the Raiders will ultimately receive is No. 24 overall, which is far lower than the team initially envisioned. 

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly hosting multiple veteran linebackers]

Of course, that pick is now one of five first-rounders the Silver and Black will have at its disposal in the next two drafts. That gives the Raiders a sizable opportunity to reshape their roster in the wake of winning just 10 games over the last two seasons.

The Mack trade was responsible for two of those selections, as well as the Raiders' newfound silverware. Morey said he was told the trophy is on Gruden's office desk. 

Whether any other trophies join the collection depends, at least in part, on what the Raiders do with the picks they got for Mack.