New general manager Mike Mayock has thrown the draft's first curveball, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport predicted earlier this week.
Fearing that their plans would be leaked, Mayock and coach Jon Gruden made news last week when they cleared the organization's war room and banished their scouts from the remainder of the draft process. Ferrell was commonly pegged as a mid-to-late first-round pick in mock drafts. In fact, there were teams with a second-round grade on the edge rusher, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
On the flip side, Ferrell outplayed Alabama's star left tackle Jonah Williams in the national title game and piled up 27 sacks and 50.5 tackles for loss during his Clemson career.
"He's one of my favorite players," one scout raved to Bob McGinn Football. "His production is unbelievable. He knows how to play. He's not an elite athlete but he maximizes everything he has."
While he's not an ideal top-five pick in terms of quick-twitch athleticism, Ferrell has received extraordinarily high marks for leadership, commitment and football intelligence.
After speaking with high school and college coaches, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted that Ferrell had the highest character of any prospect he researched in this year's draft.
The Raiders' new defensive centerpiece is a "safe hit right in the middle of the fairway," Jeremiah added.
Oakland's defense was bereft of blue-chip talent when Mayock took over early this offseason. While it remains to be seen if Ferrell fits that blue-chip description, he's going to be featured as coordinator Paul Guenther's top pass rusher and a key building block during the franchise's transition to Las Vegas.