Before hearing his name called at Radio City Music Hall, the ears of former West Virginia Mountaineer Will Clarke are surely burning as his name continues to be a topic of conversation as next month’s NFL Draft approaches.
The latest buzz surrounding Clarke focuses not only on his selection by a division winner from last year, but also a potential position change if he makes it to the NFL.
At West Virginia’s Pro Day in March, the Philadelphia Eagles were in attendance at the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility and did the majority of their drills with Clarke at the linebacker position instead of defensive end or tackle. If it ends up being the linebacker position, Clarke will give Philadelphia something they desperately need going forward in coach Chip Kelly’s second year: pressure.
Najee Goode, a former linebacker from 2008-2011 at West Virginia, has been on the Philadelphia roster since last September after being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goode and Clarke crossed paths for two seasons (2010 and 2011) during their respective times in Morgantown.
In his four seasons, Clarke finished his career tied for No. 6 all-time at West Virginia with 31.5 tackles for a loss with former Mountaineer Adam Lehnortt.
However, Philadelphia ranked dead last in the NFL against the pass last season as the defense was shredded by opponents in a league increasingly leaning toward the wide open passing games popularized in the collegiate ranks. The team also finished outside of the top 15 in terms of sacks for the second straight year for a defense that usually terrorizes opposing quarterbacks in years past.
Clarke has a great resume of measurables for a move to linebacker for Philadelphia with impressive speed even though he carries more than 270 pounds on his 6’6 frame. At this combine weight and height, Clarke is taller than any other linebacker for Philadelphia and matches pound-for-pound with two-time Pro Bowler, Trent Cole.
That seems like a recipe to be a future playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, if he were given a chance.
Whether these rumors of being selected and changing positions comes to fruition with the Eagles, Clarke would be following a similar path of former Mountaineer and current Super Bowl champion Bruce Irvin.
Clarke certainly would not argue with retracing that path as a member of the Eagles.
Follow Chris on Twitter on @_CBH_ and WVU Pros at @WVUPros.