Ferrell & Harmon headline 49ers prospects to watch in NC State-Clemson showdown

Oct 20, 2018 at 6:27 AM


With the San Francisco 49ers' playoff hopes quickly derailed by the season-ending injury to Jimmy Garoppolo and their odds of netting the top pick in the draft steadily improving, there will naturally be more attention paid to the premier players in the 2019 class as the college football season approaches its business end.

And two prospects who could be on San Francisco's radar in the opening round will go head to head when Clemson hosts NC State in a pivotal ACC matchup on Saturday.

Though Nick Bosa has been widely touted as the best player and top pass rusher in the class, Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell is widely regarded as a potential top-five pick.

He figures to be a topic of discussion in the 49ers draft room should they end up picking in the top five, and NC State stud wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, viewed as the 10th best eligible player by The Draft Network, could be someone San Francisco looks to if it trades down for extra picks, many believing he may a Julio Jones-esque difference-maker at the Z receiver spot.

Clemson boasts a catalogue of likely 2019 draft picks, including defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence and another edge prospect in Austin Bryant. NC State quarterback Ryan Finley could be in the mix in the later rounds for the 49ers should they turn C.J. Beathard into trade bait.

However, here we look at the players most relevant to the 49ers in this contest by assessing the skill sets of both Ferrell and Harmon.

Clelin Ferrell


Ferrell has racked up 21.5 sacks in a tremendous career for the Tigers. He has the perfect build for a 4-3 defensive end at 6'5" and 260 pounds and boasts superb athletic ability.


Ferrell often wins matchups simply with his outstanding burst off the snap but also has an array of pass-rush moves to help him get to the quarterback. He comes off the ball with low pad level and does a nice job of transforming his speed to power, with the rip and spin moves key elements of his repertoire. Throw in the ability to bend and dip round the edge and Ferrell is an utter nightmare for opposing offensive tackles, with even Alabama's Jonah Williams -- seen as the top tackle in the upcoming class -- struggling to handle him.


A consistently sound tackler who wraps up low, Ferrell possesses long arms that allow him to swat at the ball when pressuring the quarterback and stack and shed blockers in the run game. Ferrell does an excellent job of getting into the pads of linemen and blocking tight ends to control the leverage and sets the edge extremely well.


With a high motor and the awareness to make the right read on option plays, Ferrell has all the tools to be an every-down 4-3 end right off the bat. Though he has had problems maintaining his balance when pass rushing and often struggles when his initial rush stalls, there are very few flaws to his game and, given how well he would fit in the Niners defense, at this stage Ferrell is a player who should be near the top of San Francisco's board. Performances in games such as Saturday's may determine how close to the summit he is placed.

Kelvin Harmon


When Marquise Goodwin has not been on the field, the 49ers have struggled to get their receivers to create separation. Adding a playmaker with the potential of Harmon would help change that.

Though not a burner, Harmon does have enough speed to get over the top and combines this with a versatile set of route-running skills. Harmon excels at using his footwork to get defenders to open their hips, can use his stem to defeat press coverage and has the stop-start quickness to make defenders look foolish when he executes the double move.


Harmon has also demonstrated an understanding of how to attack zone coverage, but where he really stands out is as a catcher of the football. He attacks the ball in the air with his hands and tracks it into his grasp exceptionally well. His body control enables him to adjust to the ball and make NFL-level catches on the sideline, Harmon's 6'3" and 214-pound frame is enough carriage for him to survive big hits and hold on to the ball.

He could serve to dominate at the catch point more consistently and does not have the acceleration to run away from defenders in the open field, yet Harmon's all-round game, which includes the ability to pick up yardage after the catch using both power and elusiveness, make him worthy of first-round consideration.


The 49ers may be reticent to look for another receiver early in the draft after trading up in the second round for Dante Pettis this year. However, Harmon's ceiling appears extremely high and, if the 49ers were to trade down to collect more picks, he stands out as a potential target for a team likely to be in the market for a replacement for Pierre Garçon. Harmon was superb against Clemson last year, and his odds of being that replacement could improve if he delivers again versus the Tigers.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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