Cincinnati Bengals: 2014 NFL Round 3 Rapid Reaction

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CINCINNATI -- The pick: Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia.


My take: After going offense with their second-round pick, the Bengals returned to the defensive side of the ball in Round 3. They landed Clarke, a tall, rangy lineman who mirrors former Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. Clarke is 6-foot-6, weighs 271 pounds and could grow even bigger, the Bengals believe. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said in a post-pick news conference that Clarke has a body frame that can get him up to 290 pounds. He'll be paired in the coming seasons with Margus Hunt, a 2013 second-round selection. Like Clarke, Hunt was the third player the Bengals selected in his draft class. Clarke also joins ends Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap at the position.

Bat away: One of the hallmarks of Clarke's play in college was his ability to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. He had seven deflections his final season at West Virginia, rivaling the eight Johnson had for the Bengals last season. Johnson left Cincinnati in March, signing with Tampa Bay in free agency. Several of Johnson's deflections came at crucial moments. Two of the tips resulted in key interceptions.

What's next? The Bengals have now shored up three key position groups in defensive end, running back and cornerback. Next for Cincinnati will likely be some combination of quarterback, outside linebacker and offensive line additions in the remaining rounds. The final few rounds begin at noon ET Saturday. Expect the Bengals to possibly look for a quarterback with the fourth-round pick and then move on from there. Cincinnati has been quite pleased with where it has been able to select through the first three rounds. In each of those rounds, multiple players that were high on the Bengals' draft board were present when the picks were made. They are hopeful to see that trend continue Saturday.

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