MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After making 34 starts at West Virginia as a defensive end and defensive tackle, Will Clarke prepares for the NFL draft unsure how he’ll be utilized in the pro game.
If selected by a team that runs a 3-4 defense, he likely would transition to playing upright. In a 4-3, he could be asked to add bulk and continue developing as a down lineman.
“If you’d have asked me that question about three months ago, I may have said I’d be more of a hand-in-the-dirt kind of guy,” Clarke told the “SportsLine” crew on Wednesday night. “But since this process has started—since the NFL combine and even my pro day—a lot of teams have started to talk to me about standing up and playing that rush outside linebacker.”
If the waves of pre-draft speculation are to be trusted, Clarke improved his stock with postseason appearances at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, and he subsequently aced interviews with NFL personnel staffs. The long-armed, 6-foot-6, 270-pounder ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine and reportedly showed encouraging athleticism in workouts.
“I’ve got him in the third round right now,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayoc. “He tested fairly well, and people like the kid. The whole process really helped him. Will Clarke I think is one of the fastest rising players on the draft board.”
With the draft starting Thursday night, the three-year college starter sounds like he’ll be patient enough to wait for Day 2. The people surrounding Clarke are generating more anxiety than the actual draft process.
“Everyone around me, family and friends, all they’re talking about is, ‘Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready?’” he said. “A lot of teams like me. I know I am on a lot of teams’ boards. They’re very interested in picking me, but with which pick? I have no idea.”