Will Clarke

Posted: April 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 64 Comments »

The idea of drafting Will Clarke to be the ROLB is growing on me. Clarke was a DE/DT for West Virginia. That makes sense for a guy who is 6-6, 271. Clarke flashed at both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, but I was stuck on the idea of him as a DE, even in the 3-4. I didn’t like him as a fit for the Eagles.

Moving him to LB is a different story. I hadn’t even considered the idea until I read Tony Pauline’s report that the Eagles worked him out as a LB. Here is the workout, which was run by Eagles OLB coach Bill McGovern. (Clarke is the tall guy with long hair)

You can see that he is a good athlete. Clarke isn’t your typical 6-6, 271 guy. He’s not a freak athlete like Dion Jordan, but that’s okay. Jordan was the rare LB that could cover like a DB. Clarke has no coverage experience, but he is a good pass rusher. His sack total won’t blow you away, but part of that is due to WVa’s defense (scheme and lack of talent).

I think Clarke is an ascending player who could be a much better pro than college player. Put him on the edge and let him rush. Put some good players around him and I think he’ll be that much more effective.

Clarke would appeal to the Eagles because of his size and versatility. He has the kind of build that Chip Kelly would love in an OLB. He’s basically the same size as Clyde Simmons, if that helps to put things in perspective. Clarke played all over at WV. He was on the left side and right side. He was DT and DE. He lined up out wide and in tight. When you put on the tape, you’re going to see Dee Ford at the same spot almost every play. Clarke moves around, which is something the Eagles like.

What is his draft value? Interesting question. I think Clarke will go in the 3rd or 4th round. I’d have no problem with the Eagles using their 3rd rounder on him. This, of course, assumes there are no character issues or anything like that.

Of course I’d prefer for the Eagles to get Anthony Barr or Jeremiah Attaochu and guys on that level, but Clarke has really grown on me as a non-1st round target. I’d much rather the Eagles take a chance on Clarke than someone like Demarcus Lawrence, who doesn’t stand out to me at all. There is risk with Clarke, but you could always try to bulk him up and move him to DE if the LB experiment failed.

Here is a game.

And here are some highlights.

Don’t expect to see some dominant player that will blow your socks off. There is a reason he’s being looked at in the 3rd/4th round area. Clarke is talented and has potential, but does need some work. I also think WV mis-used him by playing him in traffic so much. He looks much more natural in space.

_


  • dislikedisqus

    It’s hard to imagine someone that size in coverage if he is not a freak athlete. Seems like a risk to try him there. Reminds me of the Gocong experiment.

    • Sconces

      He can always lose weight, but 6’6 length makes your weight more spread out. He doesn’t look hefty, just tall and strong

    • TommyLawlor

      Remember that we’re talking about being in coverage less than 10 percent of the time.

      • HazletonEagle

        Tommy, I think you are making a mistake if you dont take Howies words literally. Since Chip Kelly has been here, both he and Howie have been very honest. Its much different than with Reid where we had to take what they said and think the opposite. We are so used to that, it makes it hard to believe them. But when you look at things they say and things they do, since Chip has been here, those things match up perfectly.
        So with that said, we are looking for another Connor Barwin to take Cole’s spot. Those were Howie’s words. And we would be smart to believe him until he proves that we shouldnt anymore.

        I think there is another mistake you are making. And that would be to base your expectations from the position based on what you saw Cole do. Remember that Cole is likely not their ideal starter there. And so when they do have the right guy, he may be asked to do different things. And one of those things very well may be to cover more. When you say he covers less than 10% of the time, that may very well change. Because again, we are looking for another Connor Barwin.

        Im pretty surprised that weve worked out Clark and Knoy Ealy at OLB. But there arent a lot of OLBs with the size we are looking for who can cover as proficiently as we would like them to. So we need to do our due diligence. And I dont think its any more than just that with these guys. I believe the ideal skillset for the position is found in Trevor Reilly and Kyle Van Noy this year.

        But I would love to add some guys with the size of Clarke and Ealy. If the eagles have determined that their coverage skills are good enough for the position and we take one of them I will be ecstatic.

        • Malcolm Jones

          I understand that this is what you say you heard, but at the Florida meeting Pass Rusher seemed to be the topic for discussion. Barwin is great but he is not the “strictly pass rusher” type. Also if we gave strong looks to Dion Jordan, Attaochu, worked out Clarke as a LB and other pass rusher types and if rushing the passer was a major issue why would we go after a Barwin type. Not trying to attack your logic, just trying to understand why they would say that knowing that a competant rush OLB would take pressure off of the DB’s.

        • A_T_G

          I had the same thoughts. There are a lot of people on here, Tommy and commenters, who’s opinions I respect and they all seem to agree that we are wrong.

          That said, I see the interest in Dion and lack of interest in Graham or Ware and it makes me think that balance and flexibility are important. Dion seems like he can do everything Barwin does (and probably do it better). I think the idea of having two OLBs that can be trusted it coverage 40% of the time and both be effective getting after the QB, particularly with surprise helping them, is intriguing.

          • HazletonEagle

            Exactly. I forgot to mention Jordan. But I read a few days ago that we did offer Graham and our 2nd round pick to Miami and they turned it down. But seeing Barwin’s skill set, hearing Howie say this offseason that they would like to “double up on that skillset”, and seeing our continued interest in Dion Jordan… plenty of proof there.
            We really need to adjust to being able to take the Coach and GM at their word. We have been so condintioned for years to have to read between the lines on everything, or figure out what is just a complete smoke screen. But again, since Chip has been here, the decision makers have been very forthright with us.

            Id like to add a guy who is more of a pass rusher to come in situationally because I really badly want to improve the pass rush. But I am very confident that one of Van Noy or Trevor Reilly will be a Philadelphia Eagle when the draft is done. Those are the guys who can do it all in this draft.
            Maybe Jordan Tripp, but he is the lightest of the three and I think he needs to be an ILB.

        • TommyLawlor

          @ HazletonEagle…

          If the Eagles had 2 Connor Barwins, the defense would be in trouble.

          I love Connor and what he does, but a defense must have one pass rusher who is able to consistently beat LTs. Barwin isn’t that guy. He is an effort rusher. A defense must have someone who is explosive and/or highly athletic.

          I do agree that the Eagles would ideally love to have a pair of OLBs that could both rush and cover. The problem is finding them. Dion Jordan would have been great in that sense.

          The fact that the Eagles sent their OLB coach to work out Clarke should tell you that they are not looking for Connor, Part 2. They’d love a complete LB, but without that realistic option, the next order of business is to find a pass rusher.

          • HazletonEagle

            We do know they looked at Clarke and Ealy as OLBs, but as I said- we do not know what impressions the team came away with. For all we know they may have said “he cant cover. cross him off the list.”
            I have read that Ealy looked good overall in his workout. But I still dont know specifically what the eagles though about his LB workout.
            I havent heard anything about how Clarke’s workout went.

            You say it should prove that they arent looking for Barwin part 2, but I think it may mean they are trying to figure out if those guys can be Barwin part 2.

            Id love to have a guy who can rush better than Barwin. But I think the team is valuing versatility over rush ability. Id suggest proof of this is that we have not reached yet for a pass rusher. We went in to last season with only 3 OLBs on the roster. And only 1 with OLB experience.
            We could have signed a pass rusher. Or drafted a pass rusher. Some guy we didnt necessarily love, but felt that we needed his rush ability. But we did not do that.
            We also passed on signing any other pass rushers in free agency this year once again. I want O’Brien Schofield but we passed on him last year and this year.

            I dont think we will draft a guy just because he is a good pass rusher. I think versatility will trump all.

            One more possibility- What if we draft someone like Trent Murphy and put him at SAM moving Barwin back to the other side where he had his double digit sack season?
            Murphy is strong enough and then some to handle SAM. He also has very impressive agility and shows some ability to cover even if he cant go man to man like Dion Jordan.
            And while Murphy isnt very explosive off the line (despite his solid 10 yard split and vert and BJ numbers) he is quick enough to beat RTs from the SAM spot.
            A 17 sack guy last year upgrades the pass rush at SAM without sacrificing the size and physicality that Barwin brings. And Barwin I believe would upgrade Cole’s position, and it may help him have a resurgence as a pass rusher.

  • Sconces

    Anyone else think of Bennie Logan based on Lawlor’s writing on this guy? Obviously not the same position but 3rd/4th round + nothing exceptional on tape

    • Malcolm Jones

      exactly! Logan can play anywhere on the line but his skill set does not isolate or dictate his play. I think Clark has the frame and size to do multiple things and with his versatility it will be hard for him to not be able to fill atleast one role DE/OLB/DT.

  • HazletonEagle

    Clarke is a guy Ive had on my short list for quite a while now. Started out wanting him as a rotational DE here. At 271, hes not big enough to play there full time, but Ive been of the belief that we need to upgrade the pass rush, and we are more than 1 OLB away from doing that. We needed more along the DL too. So while I didnt see Clarke as a starter at his current weight, I did want him to come here and help us hit the QB some.
    I know we worked him out at LB. But we dont know what the team thinks about what they saw that day. I still view him as a DL. And if he looked somewhat decent at LB, then he is just that much more versatile. But I value him in the 3rd round as a rotational player. But a guy Id love to have.
    I wanted Michael Bennett for the same role. When we didnt go after him, Clark was my next best choice.

    • TommyLawlor

      The Eagles might not have been impressed by Clarke’s workout. I thought he looked pretty good for a guy his size.

      • HazletonEagle

        If he did, then that excites me because hes been on my list.
        I currently have Ealy as my avatar on the EMB right now as I think he is a very likley 1st round target for us considering that he supposedly looked good in his workout.
        If the eagles decided that these guys can cover well enough then I am really all for it because I want their size and rush ability on our defense.
        Ealy at OLB in round 1, and Clark as a rotational DE could really add some pop to the pass rush. Those 2 with Curry coming in on passing downs would do wonders for us.

        • D3FB
          • HazletonEagle

            There are reasons why Ealy will be available at 22. Hes pretty raw, and doesnt look very explosive off the line. I think mostly because he doesnt try speed rushes often at all. He mostly does his damage on inside moves. He is very strong.
            When he does try an outside rush, he does look quick. But it happens really infrequently. His 10 yard split does suggest he is capable of getting off the line.
            He is also strong anchoring in the run game, but needs to start getting in on more tackles.
            He looks strong on tape, and as a comparison, he benched more reps than Trent Murphy who we know looks like a man among boys out there.

            Michael Sam was without a doubt the more productive player on that defense. But there is a reason Ealy is a high pick and Sam is projected as a later round guy. And its not about Sam’s sexuality. Its the difference in potential between the two.

            Ealy simply needs to develop more pass rush moves. But he had an impressive workout for his size and coincidentally had a workout very comparable to Aldon Smith. If he had a good workout as an OLB then that just boosts his stock even more.
            He already lined up at 3, 5, and 7 technique at Missouri. OLB is just yet another possible dimension to his game.

            Is he perfect? No. But we are picking 22nd and its not often you see a guy with his size and athleticism available at that point in any draft. In most other drafts, hes a top 15 player.

          • D3FB

            Ealy’s biggest problems come from playing with poor pad level. This is only further exacerbated when he plays from a 2 point stance. When he stays low and gets his arms inside he’s perfectly fine but he gets too high quite a bit an just gets taken for a ride both in pass pro and in the run game. He also doesn’t do a great job gettting off blocks in the run game in general. He does have good measurables and plays with a great motor. However I just don’t see him being able to successfully transition to 34 OLB.
            Ealy played 4 quality tackles this year: Robinson, Matthews, Tiny Richardson, and Wesley Johnson. He had a sack against Auburn but it came off a play when Auburn tried to pull a guard to go block Ealy in an attempt to sell run action. The guy had no shot and Ealy had a free shot at the QB. Against Vandy he had two sacks. One came on a great hustle play where the QB tried to move up in the pocket and Ealy simply came back up and got him. The other was a play where he simply ran around Johnson. He was shut out in the A&M and Tennessee games.
            I would much rather have Marcus Smith who is only an inch shorter and has 34″ arms compared to Ealy’s 34.25″. Smith also lined up as a 3,5,7 but he played over slot receivers as well and does a good job in coverage. Both players need some time to develop more consistent pass rush moves but Smith is further developed and more well rounded.

          • HazletonEagle

            Well, Smith is another one we have paid extra close attention to.

          • Insomniac

            Ealy was the only “first round” guy on defensive that I want the Eagles to stay away from. If you wanted the same skill set, you’re better off with Murphy instead.

          • D3FB

            Pryor is that guy for me. I will throw things if we take him. I may even write strongly worded letters.

          • Insomniac

            Agreed. Hence the “was” part lol.

          • ceedubya9

            I agree with this.

        • Insomniac

          You want a player with poor instincts and football IQ at OLB? Ealy is so overrated.

  • Maggie

    TL. You mentioned he is not a freak athlete, but really, very few are. In fact many “freaks” are only very good at doing one thing. It seems Kelly likes multi-taskers who are somewhat above average at many things. Think of the line cooks in your favorite diner. They’ll never be highbrow (or nasty) chefs on TV, but you love the meals they put on your plate everyday.

  • Insomniac

    I’d rather take Adrian Hubbard. He’s more athletic and has experience as an OLB.

    • TommyLawlor

      Hubbard drives me nuts. There are times when I love him and times when I don’t know what to think. He isn’t a natural pass rusher and that bugs me when talking about a ROLB.

      • HazletonEagle

        Im afraid of the interest we have shown in Hubbard. Do not want.

  • Taylor Bolton

    I like this Clarke guy. He seems like a bit of a Justin Tuck type guy who moves well for a man over 6’5 even if he isn’t a great athlete.. “Freak Athlete” is a term that is used to loosely IMO. Last year when we took Lane Johnson it was that label that we kept hearing and yes for a man at 6’6 300 pounds to run a 4.72 is unreal but honestly the thing that made me really excited about Lane was that he was a mouldable guy who had good athleticism but more importantly was a hard-nosed football player. When you look at some “freak Atheletes” coming into the league they were just that.. athletes.. not football players. I like the idea of getting some guys who have some defining attributes ie. size or speed but most importantly I want guys who wanna play ball.

  • A_T_G

    I watched the workout tape. I am not a scout, but the guy who went last, in the all black spandex, seemed to be the only one who was even close to Clarke. This made me think (1) that if that is what potential LBs look like, he has potential, and (2) is the other guy a name we should know?

    • D3FB

      Good eye, that would be Howard Jones who played at D2 Sheppard University (non D1 players usually just go to the nearest big school’s pro day, ie Garopollo went to Northwesterns etc.). Highly athletic day 3/priority UDFA type guy.

      http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/howard-jones?id=2543645

      • A_T_G

        Woo hoo, I got one right. Between him and my fellow BU alum I now have two guys I’ll be rooting for on day 3.

        • D3FB

          Even better news, not only can you root for Larry Webster, but Brian Clarke a guard from BU is also likely to end up in a camp this summer. He played in the NFLPA game.

          http://nfldraftdiamonds.com/diamond-in-the-rough-og-brian-clarke-bloomsburg/

          • HazletonEagle

            He played on the opposite team as Webster and I recall Webster really whooping up on him.

        • HazletonEagle

          I am also a BU alum. But Im not that high on Webster. I dont think his athleticism showed up on tape. Aside from that, his reaction time off the snap is slow. If you watch him at Bloomsburg, he is the last player off the line almost every single time. And these arent air force pilot reaction times we are talking about. They are a couple other D2 athletes.
          He could be thinking too much since he is a converted basketball player so his quickness could show up eventually. But hes gotta work on his reaction time somehow.

          The small school DE/OLB I like more is Ethan Westbrooks.

          • D3FB

            I think Webster probably stands the best chance if he moves to TE. He just doesn’t have the instincts.

          • A_T_G

            Yeah, I don’t know about his chances either. Still, gotta root for a BU guy. When were you there? I graduated in ’99. My roommate was from Hazletown. Unfortunately for him, he is a die hard Browns fan.

      • Mitchell

        In regards to Jones, would you say he has tight hips? I’m just trying to figure out what people mean when they say that.

        • A_T_G

          The link D3FB provided says stiff hips are one of his negatives.

          • Mitchell

            Yep, just read that, thank you.

        • D3FB

          Jones is pretty tight in the hips. That term is a bit tough to describe. In general it has a lot to do with change of direction ability. Running a super fast 40 is great but when the ball carrier makes a move how does this player put his foot in the ground, swivel his hips and redirect
          .

          The way I like to think of it is: If this player was at the top of the key one on one vs Allen Iverson how absolutely screwed is he, on a scale of “he’s gonna get beat, it’s AI for goodness sake!” to “AI is going to cross him over like 5 times and leave is body in a pile of broken bones, torn tendons, and his ego crushed”.

          • Mitchell

            That’s what I thought. I don’t see why someone couldn’t work on this though. Out of the things to work on this seems to be one of the easiest and quickest thing to improve upon. In other words, do you knock a guy hard for having stiff hips in coverage, especially a linebacker?

          • D3FB

            Another way to think of it is: athleticism is like the engine of a car, but the hips are like the steering and traction control, all that power is great but if you have to slow down to 40 mph to go through a corner, what good is it?

            It is something that can be improved. In general nobody is ever going to go from really stiff in the hips to exceptionally fluid but improvements can be made. In one of his MMQB pieces Richard Sherman mentions that improving hip mobility has been one of Byron Maxwell’s biggest goals since getting drafted. Sherman says that Bikram yoga has been very helpful for Maxwell.

            You take note of tight hips. If a linebacker has to physically turn his body while trying to get to his spot in coverage, that makes it much harder for him to read things that are developing in front of them, compared to a guy who has the ability to backpedal and change direction fluidly. It’s not just in the pass game but the run game as well. Some guys are so tight they may be beyond repair. For example Max Bullough. He has to use his upper body to lean against his momentum and take too many steps to change his course. A perfect example comes on the first play of the game against Ohio State. Watch how awkward it is for him to try and change his path.

            http://draftbreakdown.com/video/max-bullough-vs-ohio-state-2013/

          • Maggie

            to update a little, Steve Nash 5 years ago.

      • A_T_G

        Also, I almost forgot. I had to read the line in the link about him having green eyes three times to get it. I couldn’t imagine scouting was so in-depth that eye color mattered.

    • Mitchell

      Thought the exact same thing. His spin move was so fast.

  • Guest

    Is anyone going to suggest that the 49ers release Aldon Smith? After all, if DJax got released for “character reasons,” and Smith did something much worse character wise today, the natural conclusion is Smith should be released. Jim Harbaugh isn’t going to do that because he’s a real coach who knows how to get his team to the Super Bowl.

    • A Roy

      Oh, look…a guest asshole.

      • A_T_G

        Hey, take it easy on the guy. He up votes a lot of comments.

    • Mitchell

      lol yep.

    • Joe Minx

      Hey Guest…go bleep yourself.

  • GENETiC-FREAK

    Mirror D.. Thats how i see the D looking.. Its like Rugby League D.. 2 positions on opposite sides of the field expected to be able to do everything what the other can do.. The only difference is the talent of the player.. Rumors going around Eagles trying to trade for Dion.. People would think he would be here to replace Barwin but i would think he would be here to replace Cole to play opposite Barwin.. Too stuck on the notion that the ROLB is meant to just rush.. Well how about a pass rusher who has the skill set to cover just as good as well.. It becomes unpredictable especially if they are stemming at the LOS.. The receivers on O are expected to know how to block, n learn the entire route tree along with knowing what the play the other recievers n OL are gonna do.. Same would be for D.. Not just doing your job but having the skill set to do others as well

  • Anders

    Draft him, he has dreads that makes him perfect for the predator spot

  • Poppi

    Tommy, don’t we need strong pass coverage at this position or more of an edge rusher?

    • Anders

      I say pass rush. Pass rush > coverage every day of the week

      • eagleyankfan

        That was the Giants model when they won the SB. I vote pass rush.

  • GermanEagle

    I am pretty sure that a 2nd rounder + Brandon Graham won’t cut the deal with the Dolphins.
    However would you offer Miami our #22 OVR straight up for Dion Jordan in case Barr is gone by then?
    Time’s yours…

    • eagleyankfan

      Eagles would. Miami wouldn’t.

    • Anders

      I would.

  • Sifter

    Will Clarke certainly intrigues me, but at the same time I can’t help but look at the roster and see Vinny Curry and wonder whether he could be (have been now…) the same type of player. Curry came out at 6’3,266. Curry was quite athletic and agile for a DE as the cone drills showed. He rarely dropped to cover at Marshall, but that’s still more than Clarke did. Clarke is much ‘longer’ of course, couple of inches taller, couple of inches longer arms. But Curry’s at least as long as Trent Cole. If Cole can start for Kelly at ROLB, why couldn’t Curry? Well because Curry’s 280lbs+ now, too late for him to change positions I’d imagine. And don’t get me started on Brandon Graham…there’s gotta be a way to get these two guys contributing more, they are too talented to sit on the pine most of the match. Bill Davis, time to earn those dollars this season!

  • Will

    Why do the Eagles insist on converting DE’s to ROLB?

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Because they’re pass rushers. I think it’s smart of them to be looking at all prospects. I like Clarke. He’s got great work ethic, he’s highly coachable and he’s a leader. I think at worst he could be a good rotational DE. But is a very good developmental prospect that could pay off huge.

      • Will

        Pass rushing is part of it…how’s he in coverage? With 4.77 40 speed? I would imagine the back pedal is even slower…

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I think Clarke makes great sense if we miss out on OLB prospects in 1st two rounds. I honestly like Clarke more than Attaochu and I really don’t like Ford for us.

  • nopain23

    hey T
    to say this is the most anticipated draft in eagles’ history would be an understatement no?
    Just wanted your opinion on the Tom Gamble effect. I’m hoping he will be the stabilizing force in the draft room.I trst his evalutions especially on the defensive side of the ball. I think we should all role with gamble on this draft.Count me as one of the guys who thinks we should trade back and pick up an extra 3rd or 4th and draft BPA. I think that player will be Attoachu.He and KVN with Kendricks would give us a top 5 LB crew for the next half decade or so. THe 3-4 defense needs good LB more than anything else..see 49ers and the Steelers.