MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After Cincinnati selected West Virginia’s Will Clarke late in the third round, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said he anticipates the Bengals’ newest defensive end adding 20 pounds.
“When you look at his frame, this guy can put weight on—he can be 290 in a month,” Guenther said. “He’s prototype for what we’re looking for in a defensive end. We like long pass rushers and athletic guys. It’s been proven in the NFL, you never can get enough rushers. We love to roll them in and keep them fresh.”
Clarke was chosen with the 88th overall pick, 19 spots behind West Virginia’s other draftee, running back Charles Sims. That could be all the Mountaineers named in this year’s draft, which concludes Saturday with rounds four through seven.
Cincinnati lost 6-foot-7 Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay in free agency, so the 6-6 Clarke—rangy, long-armed and adept at narrowing passing windows—was viewed as a natural replacement. Yet the Bengals have other capable defensive ends in their 4-3 scheme, including fifth-year pro Carlos Dunlap and seventh-year journeyman Wallace Gilberry—each of whom made 7.5 sacks last season. Cincinnati also expects a quantum leap in productivity from Margus Hunt, the 6-foot-8 second-round pick from 2013.
Clarke reportedly impressed the Bengals coaches during a visit to the facility before the draft.
“That visit really sold me on (Clarke) being the kind of guy we’re looking for around here,” Guenther said. “We felt really good about the player on film, we felt really good about the player at the combine, and bringing him in and spending a couple days with him and getting him around our guys and our coaches really helped us.”
Said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis: “He’ll make this football team better with his physical attributes. He’s been a pretty consistent player throughout. He got an opportunity to play and kind of shine in some of the postseason games. You kind of see a guy grow into himself when he gets that opportunity.”