Bengals sign third-round DE Will Clarke

May, 27, 2014
May 27
10:00
AM ET
CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals are now one draft pick shy of having all eight under contract.

The team announced Tuesday morning that it had officially signed second- and third-round picks Jeremy Hill and Will Clarke. Their fourth- to seventh-round draft picks had all been signed last week. Only first-round cornerback Darqueze Dennard remains.

Hill took to Twitter on Sunday, heading off the team's announcement.

Under the league's rules regarding rookie wages, as set in the latest collective bargaining agreement, Clarke likely will command nearly $560,000 in cap space in 2014. The defensive end could end up making around $550,000 in bonuses across the life of his rookie deal, and see his base salary increase each of the final three years. When official numbers from his contract are provided, we'll update them.

As the Bengals start organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday, Clarke will be among the rookies to watch. He comes to a position group that already has Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry, Robert Geathers and Margus Hunt. Clarke would give them another body at the position, and one that mirrors former defensive end Michael Johnson, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent this offseason.

At 6-foot-6 and more than 270 pounds, Clarke has a long frame and long arms that are reminiscent of Johnson's. The Bengals are hoping he can disrupt passes at the line of scrimmage and hound quarterbacks from both the exterior and interior of the defensive line. Like some of the other ends, Clarke has a good chance to play at tackle in certain scenarios. Typically that occurs in nickel defenses, but Clarke played tackle on any down and in any situation while in college at West Virginia.

Clarke also said he's hoping to get up to 290 pounds by the start of the regular season in September.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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