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.
At the Senior Bowl, where Zack Martin was the star of the offensive line, Will Clarke gave him fits, reportedly using his length well to consistently get into Martin's chest.
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.