How Clelin Ferrell plans to earn respect within Raiders’ locker room

How Clelin Ferrell plans to earn respect within Raiders’ locker room

ALAMEDA — The Raiders drafted Clelin Ferrell to stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Everything else is secondary. Let’s be clear about that.

Production’s the only requirement for a high NFL draft pick, and the Raiders took him No. 4 overall with the belief his scheme fit will facilitate consistent performance.

The Raiders are getting more than that, adding traits deemed important to create a new locker-room culture. Ferrell’s best off-field asset: natural born leadership.

“It was such a good thing to bring in a guy like Clelin so early because he’s one of those guys that just brings people along,” fifth-round receiver Hunter Renfrow, also Ferrell’s teammate at Clemson, said Friday during Raiders rookie minicamp. “He’ll say, ‘Alright, follow me. We’re going to go and we’re going to go do what it takes to win.’”

Ferrell understands leadership is earned. It’s not something that transfers. No matter how much street cred he had at Clemson, that won’t carry over to a Raiders roster loaded with veterans and an established leadership structure.

The defensive end isn’t walking in with his chest puffed out, even if that’s often allowed with status as the No. 4 overall NFL draft pick.

Ferrell started this weekend's Raiders rookie minicamp and subsequent offseason program work looking to showing something.

“Just that I’m a worker,” Ferrell said. “The play is going to come with itself, but I just want to earn the respect of my teammates, that’s the biggest thing. So much going on around because you’re a rookie and don’t know much. Everything is just new, it’s a whole new situation, whole new playbook, whole new teammates, everything. So, just come in with the right mindset and right attitude, work hard and just earn the respect of my teammates is the biggest thing.”

Ferrell learned that respect is earned growing up in a large military family where both his parents served, and he attended a military college prep school.

“It comes from where I grew up and just how I was raised. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s always about your attitude and about your outlook on life,” Ferrell said. “You could always be in a worse situation, you know what I mean? So for me, it’s always about my attitude, so regardless of anything that I’ve ever been through, any struggles or success, you know, I always try to keep a positive attitude because that’s so important just as far as, you know, affecting others and if you want to get out of those situations.”

Ferrell understands that respect is earned with action, and that a message is better-received following solid performance. Helping the team win is the way to good graces, and he’ll need to perform well right away to help a team sorely lacking pressure off the edge.

That was clear heading into the NFL draft, and was a major reason why Ferrell was one of three defensive ends added in nine selections. Fourth-rounder Maxx Crosby and seventh-round pick Quinton Bell are also in this mix, though more development is required – Bell has a ways to go after a late position switch from receiver – to make great impacts.

The Raiders could use Crosby to learn quick and find an early role. Ferrell could help with that.

“He’s gotten bigger and stronger every year that he’s played and some of his second effort production is what stands out the most, but he really tested well at the combine,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s got real big upside and I think he’s got a real big role model to learn from in our first-round pick.”

Crosby and Ferrell met during the pre-draft process, and there’s respect established between the two pass rushers.

“Maxx is someone who is going to be really good too, as long as he just puts his head down and goes to work and takes it all in,” Ferrell said. “There’s going to be good days and bad days, none of them are going to be perfect, we just have to accept that. Just come back, come with the right mindset every day, he’s going to be fine.”

[RELATED: AB, Carr building rapport during offseason program]

There’s great confidence Ferrell will be fine in his role. He’s a high-floor player capable of stepping in quickly, though expectations for rookie pass rushers should always be tempered. A strong spring, summer and start to the 2019 season will endear him to those already on the roster.

“Everybody’s been open-arms,” Ferrell said. “They have just been easy with giving out knowledge and things like that. It’s been really good. I’m excited, can’t wait to meet the rest of the team and finish out strong with this minicamp for sure.”

NFL rumors: Raiders work out running backs LeGarrette Blount, Bo Scarbrough

NFL rumors: Raiders work out running backs LeGarrette Blount, Bo Scarbrough

Through the first six games of his NFL career, Josh Jacobs has been everything the Raiders hoped he would be, and the rookie running back quite clearly is one of the frontrunners to be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Still, though, he soon will enter uncharted territory.

Jacobs was never a full-time bell cow throughout his college career. Over three years at Alabama, he totaled 251 carries, never topping more than 120 in any single season. Of the 122 carries by Raiders running backs so far this season, 88 of them have gone to Jacobs.

The rookie has been productive with those attempts, averaging 4.9 yards per rush, and he has scored five touchdowns. Oakland has increased his workload in the wake of several injuries to its wide receivers, culminating with a career-best performance in the Raiders' Week 6 win over the Bears, in which Jacobs rushed 26 times for 123 yards and two scores.

At 5-10, 220 lbs., Jacobs has the physical traits to be an every-down back. But behind him are two similarly sized backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, both of whom are 5-8 and between 205-210 lbs. With Jacobs' backups being diminutive in stature, the Raiders reportedly went looking for a bigger-bodied bruiser.

ESPN's Field Yates reported Wednesday that Oakland worked out two free-agent running backs, both of which would immediately become the largest running back on the Raiders' roster, if they were signed.

Of those two backs, LeGarrette Blount is the more accomplished. A 10-year NFL veteran, Blount played for the Lions last season, rushing 154 times for 418 yards and five touchdowns. A short-yard specialist, Blount has 56 career rushing touchdowns to his name.

Bo Scarbrough has yet to appear in an NFL game, but was on the Cowboys and Jaguars practice squads last year before being signed by the Seahawks toward the end of the season. Interestingly enough, he and Jacobs overlapped for two years at Alabama, and Jacobs only moved into a featured role after Scarbrough departed.

[RELATED: Why Jacobs is harsh grader even after biggest Raiders games]

The Raiders appear intent on relying on their run game moving forward, and while Jacobs affords them that ability, the stable of running backs could be rounded out a bit better. Whether it's Blount, Scarbrough or another power back, don't be surprised if there's a new addition to Oakland's running back room sometime soon.

Why Darren Waller contract extension with Raiders is money well spent


Why Darren Waller contract extension with Raiders is money well spent

ALAMEDA -- Raiders tight end Darren Waller is just five games into a breakout season, but it’s already clear he’s in the NFL's top tier. He’s a dynamic playmaker with a prototypical body, a receiver’s speed, soft hands and the toughness required to block effectively.

Waller’s just entering his prime at 27 years old, with several years of excellence ahead. His three-year contract extension Wednesday was

 money easily and well spent on a player just scratching the surface of what he can do in this league.

The Raiders should shout this news from the mountaintops and put him on Las Vegas billboards posthaste. He’s a fantastic redemption story who inspires those around him and is incredibly easy to root for.

Waller was a player suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy while battling addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs and whatever else he could find.

He’s now more than two years clean, living his best life while realizing vast potential nearly wasted. Waller has no problem discussing his past and his path to sobriety, hoping to inspire others to overcome issues with substance abuse.

“It’s one of the great stories in football, one of the great things that I’ve seen in my career,” Gruden said last week. “I’m really proud of him, so thrilled for him getting it together and being an honest, upfront guy and talking about it and giving other young people the same enthusiasm to beat it, the same confidence that they can beat whatever addiction they might have.”

This is a guy you want around long-term. This is a steady locker room presence and a reliable target who will be just 31 years old when he plays out this contract extension. Waller can be one of the league’s best tight ends for years, making this deal seem like a bargain in the long run.

Gruden easily earmarked money for Waller, already considering him among the league’s best.

“He’s really a rookie playing tight end,” Gruden said. “He was a wide receiver in college. He sat out of football for a year. He leads the league in receiving right now at that position. If you watched him block, I don’t know if there’s a better tight end in football, really.”

Waller’s extension also suggests the Raiders are set up at tight end fro a long time. Rookie fourth-round draft pick Foster Moreau has surprised many in an excellent start to his professional career, showing toughness in the run game and an ability to make clutch catches.

They will play a huge role in a Raiders offense struggling to find receiver production with Tyrell Williams ailing, as well as three players who were in training camp now cut and two in-season trades to account for those losses.

[RELATED: Carr making most of Raiders' revolving cast of receivers]

Waller is the passing game’s best asset right now, with an ability to play in-line tight end and every receiver spot. Having him around long term adds vital stability to the offense, and the timing could’ve have been better.

The Raiders eliminated contract uncertainty down the line with a respectable sum Wednesday. Waller's extension thus avoids the drama associated with encroaching free agency and increased market value when his stats shoot skyward in 2019 and beyond as he further develops as a player.