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Cowboys Draft 2014: Scouting Will Clarke

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, its important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you BTB is providing a series of detailed scouting reports on each of these targets. Today the series continues with our look at West Virginia Edge Rusher, Will Clarke.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Will Clarke

Position: Edge Rusher

School: Will Clark

Height: 6’ 6"

Weight: 271 LBs

Games Studied: Texas, TCU, Oklahoma St.

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players’ measurable traits, and combine results.  The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the player's peers by position. A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Pass Game:

Clarke played all over the defensive line at West Virginia, however the majority of the snaps were split between LDE & RDE. He is a big, prototype DE who has a decent first step that puts him in position to win against OT’s multiple times a game. Also has the flexibility to lower his center of gravity and change the angle of his rush to get in line with the QB, however the major struggle that I see, and the biggest problem I have with him as a player is that most times even when he is in position to win vs the OT, he fails to finish his move and separate. As an example, when he dips around the edge, and has the QB in his sight he fails to "rip" with his inside arm and get free from the blocker.

This creates a problem because there were several times in the three games I watched where he was in position to make a big play, but would be pushed passed the QB, just out of his reach. In fact with only a couple of exceptions (at least one of which featured horrendous technique by the TCU left tackle), just about every sack or hit on a QB that Clark got was very late in the play when the coverage in the secondary was good, and the QB held the ball too long.

Run Game:

Many times, whether it’s scheme or just freelancing, Clarke takes off up field with no regard to the run, and every team I saw him play against ran draws behind him into the crease. Part of me thinks it can’t be scheme because if it were, then there would be a LB or DT playing the gap underneath him. There are times when you see the scheme ask him to slant inside and he can penetrate that way, however he seems to struggle actually getting in position to make the tackle. Plays with decent leverage in short yardage situations, and made a TFL on the goal line in one game. Seems like he’s not a great stop/start athlete, as you can see by the relatively poor numbers in the 10 yd split, short shuttle and jumping drills, and that could limit him as a run defender when he has to redirect.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection:

As a true NFL bodied defensive end, I can see why this Cowboys staff seems to like Clarke, and I think he is a viable pick late in the third or in the fourth round, especially if you miss on the chance to get one of the other guys we’ve looked at (or another edge rusher) earlier in the draft. However, he is far from a finished product as a rusher, without the athletic upside offered by others in the class. While a guy like Rod Marinelli can likely help Clarke become more of a technician, and help him improve his production he can’t make him a more explosive athlete, which lowers his ceiling significantly.

Pro Comparison: Carlos Dunlap, DE Cincinnati Bengals (2010 2nd Round Pick)

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