West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Will Clarke (98). Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft: Q&A with West Virginia Defensive End Will Clarke


 

With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. Earlier in the week we’ve already heard from Kansas State’s Ty Zimmerman and Arkansas’ Robert Thomas, and today, we hear from versatile West Virginia defensive end Will Clarke.

Clarke was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Mountaineers. In 2013, Clarke earned second-team All-Big 12 honors and led his team in sacks with six and tackles for loss with 17.

At 6-foot-6 and 271 pounds, Clarke has the long frame to add weight and play on the line as a 3-4 defensive end in a scheme like the Packers. Clarke also has the athleticism to transition to linebacker and be an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense.

Clarke can hold the point of attack and rush the passer, which makes him an intriguing defensive prospect heading into the draft and should give whichever team drafts him options on defense.

Many draft analysts, like Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, give Clarke a third round grade and see the West Virginia prospect as player who’s stock has risen and could continue to rise as he works out for teams and showcases his athletic ability as a defensive lineman.

Clarke could be a player the Packers target on draft day. He would certainly fit in well with the new “elephant” end role Coach McCarthy would like to implement on defense next season.

To learn more about Clarke, I reached out to him and here is what he had to say about his game and possibly playing for Green Bay.

West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Will Clarke (98). Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Q. Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and what led you to play the defensive end position?

WC: My name is William Clarke and I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I grew up with two older sister and two great parents.  I began playing defensive end my freshman year on the junior varsity football team.  I was larger than everyone else on the team and my coach though I would be a great fit for the position.

Q. You were a very good pass rusher at West Virginia. You had a monster 2013 season with 50 tackles, six sacks, and 17 tackles for loss. What does it mean to you to finish your college career in this manner? How will you transfer this success to the NFL?

WC: It means the world to me to have had a pretty productive senior season but there is always room for improvement.  Therefore I will work to try to even double those stats in the NFL by studying film and working hard on and off the field.

Q. I heard you impressed some people at the Shrine Game, and had another good week in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. What were you able to show people about your game at these events?

WC: I believe that I was able to show NFL scouts that I am agile and that I am fast off of the edge.

West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Will Clarke (98) sacks Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Grant Rohach (3). Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Q. What are the strengths of your game, and what makes you unique as a defensive end?

WC: I believe my size is my biggest advantage.  I use my large frame to create mismatches against my opponents.

Q. In your opinion, what is the most underrated part of your game you’d like people to know about?

WC: The most underrated part about my game would be my speed.  Many people second guess or question my speed.

Q. Are there any NFL players you study or try to aspire to be like? Any you watched growing up that inspired you to play football or become a defensive end?

WC: I watch a lot of film on Jevon Kearse. He was one of the best pass rushers ever and I believe he created mismatches for his opponents that I can create.

Q. The Packers will be looking to the draft this May to bolster their front seven. How would you feel about playing in Green Bay if they drafted you? What could you bring to their team?

WC: I hope that I’m that guy that they choose to draft.  I would love playing in Green Bay.  I have a former college teammate (Donny Barclay) playing for Green Bay currently and it would be great to be there as well.

West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Will Clarke (98) tackles Baylor Bears running back Shock Linwood (32). Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Q. The Packers do play a 3-4 defense. If they drafted you, where do you see yourself fitting in this system? Would you still play defensive end or could you transition to outside linebacker?

WC: I believe that I would do great at either position. I am athletic enough to stand up and play outside backer and also have the technical skills to play as a 3-4 defensive end.

Q. What will be some goals you will set for yourself in your first year with your new team as you begin your NFL career?

WC: In the very least, to play right away and start on one of the phases as a rookie.  Whether that be on any special teams or on the defense, I want to work my way up to starting by the end of the season.

Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. Who have been the most influential people in your life and have helped you get to this point?

WC: The most influential people in my life have been my father and all my coaches. They have all pushed me to be the hard working person that I am today.

Q. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?

WC: I like to relax and enjoy down time with my girlfriend.  We both have very busy schedules, so whenever we can see each other is great.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you?

WC: I grew up watching Packer football and I always admired playing playoff football in Green Bay, so hopefully I will be blessed with the opportunity to do just that.

 

Career college stats

2013 – 50 tackles, 17 TFL, 6 sacks, 3 PBUs, FF, and 5 QB hurries

2012 – 26 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 4 PBUs, and 4 QB hurries

2011 – 35 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and a pass breakup

2010 – 2 tackles and .5 TFL

 

Film on Will Clarke

West Virginia special on Will Clarke

 

Will Clarke against TCU: 4 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack, QB hurry, and a forced fumble

 

Will Clarke against Texas: 5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and a sack

 

Watch more film on Will Clarke over at draftbreakdown.com.

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