Officially a bust? Former No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell a healthy scratch for Raiders' season opener

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The Las Vegas Raiders surprised just about everyone when they made Clelin Ferrell the No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft.

There's no question Ferrell was talented, mind you. He was a national champion and ACC defensive player of the year at Clemson, a school known for defensive line talent. He was definitely expected to go in the first round. And yet, no one expected him to go in the top 5 for a reason, especially with a talent like Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen, who has since made a Pro Bowl, on the board.

The Raiders' decision-makers, always marching to the beat of their own drum, still opted to take Ferrell.

Fast forward two-and-a-half years, and the Raiders suited up for their season opener. You would expect a former top-five overall pick to be one of the team's biggest stars heading into his third NFL season. 

Instead, Ferrell is a healthy scratch, and we once again have a reason to wonder if the current Raiders regime is making its picks with a dart board.

Raiders rule Clelin Ferrell inactive for 'Monday Night Football' opener

Ferrell was one of six names on the Raiders' inactive list for their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday.

It's worth noting that Ferrell had been on the team's injury report heading into the game with a back issue, but he had been a full participant for the team's three most recent practices. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport also reported Ferrell to be a healthy scratch, so it seems this was a football decision rather than a health decision.

Ferrell has posted 65 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 26 games in his first two seasons with the Raiders.

The Raiders have not drafted well under Jon Gruden

Since Raiders head coach Jon Gruden took over the organization in 2018, and received a massive $100 million contract to do so, the team's drafting has been, to put it politely, peculiar.

To put it less politely, the team has put on a clinic in how to not handle the draft, which isn't great considering the team bet big on its drafting talent in trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Let's just go through the seven first-round selections they've made since Jon Gruden took over:

OT Kolton Miller (2018, 15th overall): Probably the biggest success on this list. Miller has entrenched himself as the team's starting left tackle, received a three-year, $54 million extension this spring and was ranked as the 23rd-best offensive tackle (left or right) in the NFL by Pro Football Focus entering this season. 

DE Clelin Ferrell (2019, 4th overall): See above.

RB Josh Jacobs (2019, 24th overall): This probably goes down as the Raiders' other big win, but even that comes with an asterisk. Yes, Jacobs has made a Pro Bowl and posted 2,619 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns in his first two seasons, but we're also talking about a first-round running back, which is always a beehive of questions around value and opportunity cost. The Raiders also gave running back Kenyan Drake $14.5 million in free agency this offseason, so you have to wonder just how much they believe in their own guy there.

S Johnathan Abram (2019, 27th overall): Abram missed nearly his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury, then posted PFF's worst-graded season among safeties in 2020. That qualifies as a miss.

WR Henry Ruggs (2020, 12th overall): The fun thing about Ruggs' selection is that everyone knew why it had happened. Ruggs is, and remains, fast. His 452 receiving yards as a rookie would rank ninth among players in his draft class, and he also reportedly punctured his thigh in a moving accident during the summer. He isn't a bust yet, but there probably aren't many teams broken up over missing out on him.

CB Damon Arnette (2020, 19th overall): Arnette will not be starting on Monday and was reported to be an afterthought in camp heading into this season. It's not looking good.

OT Alex Leatherwood (2021, 17th overall): Leatherwood hasn't played a down yet, so we won't judge. Initial reactions to his selection were not encouraging though, containing the "reach" label that has become so familiar with this team.

Making this whole list more infuriating is the players the Raiders didn't pick. The Raiders could have had Allen over Ferrell. They could have had any number of defensive backs over Abram or Arnette. Instead of Ruggs, they could have had their pick of (gulp) Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Justin Jefferson.

And this is just the first-round picks. The real disasters have come in the second and third rounds, where so many smart organizations excel in finding Pro Bowlers. 

The team tried to trade 2018 second-rounder P.J. Hall away in 2020, but he failed his physical and the team ended up waiving him. He has since been arrested on assault charges. The Raiders' 2020 third-rounder, Tanner Muse, was shockingly waived before playing a snap with the team. Their 2018 third-rounder, Arden Key, was also waived this offseason and has gone on to blast the organization and compare Gruden to a Chucky doll.

The Gruden front office has had its wins like fourth-rounder turned sack artist Maxx Crosby, but it is borderline impossible to build a contender when missing this often in the first round. The Raiders have been content with their reputation for draft reaches, but that only becomes a positive when those reaches work out.

They haven't.

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