Justin Tuck is a a member of the Oakland Raiders and Mathias Kiwanuka is on the wrong side of 30 and possibly nearing the end of his career. As a result, the New York Giants find themselves uncharacteristically thin when it comes to pass rushers at the defensive end position.
At the same time, outside of Jadeveon Clowney, this is a bad year to need a pass rusher, particularly a 4-3 defensive end. Most of the pass rushers in this draft are either 3-4 edge rushers or "position-less" hybrids. However, there are a few true, 4-3 defensive ends -- one of whom is Will Clarke of West Virginia. Let's look at Clarke with today's 2014 NFL Draft prospect profile.
- Prototypical size (6-foot-6, 271 pounds, 34 5/8" arms)
- Nice first step
- Flashes the ability to bend and play with power and leverage
- Versatile, has played 4-3 DE, 3-4 DE, and even some 3-4 rush linebacekr
- High motor and does the little things (aware of cut blocks, gets his hands up to swat passes (7 his senior year), chases down plays downfield)
- Reportedly a team leader with strong work ethic
- Occasionally looses leverage and plays high
- Average change of direction skills
Does He Fit With The Giants?
I think so.
He was used a lot, probably too much, as a 3-4 defensive end (5-technique) in college, but he is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end. He fits the Giants' specifications for the position perfectly, is (reportedly) a high-character player, and never seems to give up on a play. Also the has the versatility the Giants covet in their players, with the ability to slide around the defensive line and play in multiple fronts
He's a good (but not great) athlete who's hustle can make up for a lot if he can't "Out Athlete" an offensive lineman.
Will Clarke vs Oklahoma State (2013) (via Adrian Ahufinger)
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - Not Ranked
Mocking The Draft - Not Ranked
CBS Sports - 107
Draft Countdown - Not Ranked
Draft Tek - 60
Clarke hasn't been getting much press, but the more I see of him, the more he looks like a Giant to me. In fact, if he polishes up his technique some, he reminds me of Justin Tuck, and seems to be a natural left defensive end.
He's a good enough athlete to put up combine numbers in the same range as JPP, though on tape he doesn't have that same glaring freakishness. Beyond the numbers, he's got a strong motor and reportedly strong work ethic and strong leadership qualities.
If his work ethic is as strong as reported, Clarke definitely has the tools to have starter-level upside, and at least be a strong contributor in a good defensive end rotation.