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Mock schmock: Raiders weren't willing to wait for Clelin Ferrell

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Clark: Raiders' taking Ferrell with No. 4 pick 'mind-boggling' (1:10)

Ryan Clark examines Oakland reaching to select Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick. (1:10)

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You think you were stunned by the Oakland Raiders using the NFL's No. 4 overall draft pick on Clelin Ferrell?

Imagine being Ferrell and getting that call last week.

"I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't surprised," Ferrell said with a laugh, later that same night.

"I don't pay attention to the mock drafts; those things are stupid. Through talks with my agent, we really didn't know what to expect going in. Me personally, I always felt like I was going to be a Raider because I had such a good relationship and good meetings with the Raiders. It was such a great process. Everything was so easy with Coach [Jon] Gruden and [general manager] Mike [Mayock] and it was a great atmosphere. I had a good feeling about the Raiders, but I definitely wasn't expecting it at all."

Why would he? Why would anyone this side of Gruden and Mayock, as Ferrell and his draft classmates begin rookie minicamp this weekend?

The mainstream thinking went something like this -- sure, Ferrell is a nice player, a guy who racked up 27 sacks in three seasons as the heart and soul of a two-time national champion Clemson defense. And yes, the defensive end checked off all the boxes as a player who addressed a specific position of need, boasted a high football IQ with high-quality character while being a leader.

But the fourth pick of the draft? Ferrell did not run the 40-yard dash at the combine or his pro day. ESPN's Todd McShay had him slotted at No. 26 in his final mock draft and Mel Kiper Jr. had him at No. 32 in his final mock. Even Khalil Mack, who the Raiders have been looking to replace since trading him to the Chicago Bears in the middle of his holdout last Sept. 1, went fifth. And Oakland, with a league-low 13 sacks last season, needed an immediate impact pass-rusher, a surefire All-Pro who could be in an annual conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, as Mack was feted for in 2016.

Many see the key to winning the draft as getting maximum value out of picks. With that in mind, surely the Raiders could have traded back from No. 4, acquired at least another selection and still been able to draft Ferrell, no?

Well ...

"At the end of the day," Mayock said, "I didn't think there was anything with enough value for us to change our plans."

The Raiders ranked Ferrell as the second-best defensive end in the draft, behind Ohio State's Nick Bosa, who went No. 2 overall to the San Francisco 49ers.

And therein lies the other half of the argument -- if Ferrell is your guy, go get him, no matter when or where. Especially since he most certainly would not have been there at No. 24, the Raiders' second of three first-round picks.

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1:11

Ferrell: 'It was truly a blessing' to be drafted 4th overall

Clelin Ferrell reflects on being drafted 4th overall in the 2019 NFL draft by the Raiders.

Why not trade back?

To paraphrase Ricky Watters: With whom, for what?

Let's look back at how the draft went down. There was no movement early because the New York Jets, who many assumed would trade back, could not find a trade partner and took Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams third overall. And if no one was willing to go up to No. 3, why would anyone move up to No. 4?

The quarterback-hungry New York Giants, at No. 6, seemed a possibility, but all they had to do was stand pat and draft Duke's Daniel Jones, which shocked more people than the Ferrell pick.

Gruden's brother, Jay, with the Washington Redskins at No. 15 made sense. But all Washington had to do was remain patient and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins landed in its lap.

Plus, had the Raiders swapped with Washington so Jay Gruden could get Haskins at No. 4, Jon Gruden would likely have missed out on Ferrell since the Green Bay Packers took a defensive end in Michigan's Rashan Gary at No. 12.

Again, if Ferrell's your guy, he's your guy, right?

Consider: Despite edge rusher Josh Allen and his 17 sacks last season for Kentucky being available, the Raiders were never really high on him. Same with players like Houston's Ed Oliver, a versatile interior lineman, and Gary.

"Look, it all goes back to there were flashier players, players that other people may have had higher on their boards, teams may have had higher on their boards," Mayock said.

"Everybody else had all the big names up there, but Jon and I went in [Thursday] morning and kind of double-checked everything, and [Ferrell] was our guy, and again, he checked all the boxes -- he is going to be a three-down player, he is 267 pounds, he's a captain. When you talk to the guys at Clemson, they all talk about this kid being the cornerstone of that defense. Everything he does reminds me of what we want in the Raiders."

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1:34

Kiper predicts Raiders will win the AFC West

Mel Kiper Jr. expects the Raiders to win the AFC West next season after Jon Gruden's great 2019 NFL draft.

Ferrell fits the mold

Gruden said not only Ferrell, but fellow first-rounders Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram fit the Raiders' mold.

"I'm proud of these three guys," Gruden said. "They are what we are all about."

The irony, of course, is Ferrell having the same agent as Mack ... and Amari Cooper ... and Bruce Irvin. All former Raiders who all had unceremonious and cringe-worthy exits from Oakland.

Not that any of that was on anybody's mind on Ferrell's night.

"We have something special going on here and I can already feel it and I just got here," said Ferrell, who graduated from Clemson in December with a degree in sports communication.

"It's truly a blessing to be a part of an organization with a legacy already so big and broad. You know you have guys like Howie Long and I was blessed enough to be the recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award. So, knowing guys like that and knowing that they paved the way for someone like me to have the opportunity, and they were all about the right things, hard work, discipline, effort. You know, that's what it's all about -- effort."

And being in the right place at the right time. Yes, even at No. 4 in the draft.