Adrian Clayborn, Iowa Hawkeyes
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Adrian Clayborn possesses good strength and is a battler in the trenches which will translate nicely as he faces bigger and meaner offensive linemen in the NFL. He is a high motor guy who will work hard to make the difficult tackle whether chasing down a ball carrier at the line of scrimmage or putting pressure on the quarterback.
As a pass rusher, Clayborn recorded 11.5 sacks in 2009, but his sack tally fell off in 2010, recording just 3.5 as a senior. Obviously, however, Clayborn did show an ability to put pressure on the quarterback and was able to beat Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi a few times in last season's matchup, so those who believe his pass rushing days are behind him once he reaches the NFL may be in for a bit of a surprise. He won't lead the league in sacks, but he is good at shedding blocks and could be an asset in the pass rush as a 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 end, which many believe would be the best fit for him in the NFL..
He, along with his teammates, did a fantastic job of limiting the Georgia Tech triple option in the 2010 Orange Bowl. He showed good discipline and recognition, and demonstrated his ability to chase down ball carriers. The Hawkeyes had about a month to prepare for the Yellow Jackets' option offense and likely placed special emphasis on staying on assignment and not over-pursuing, but he showed that he's capable of recognizing the run and playing disciplined run defense. He may not be the fastest defender in the draft, but he takes good angles to put himself in position to make the play. He's also rather quick and has shown he can make plays in the backfield.
Clayborn played the 4-3 end position at Iowa, but could play the 3-4 end in the pros. He could even move over to play tackle in a 4-3 defense, as he does not possess the speed to excel as a pass rushing 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. To fit as a 3-4 end he'd have to add some bulk to his frame and shore up in straight run defense. Despite all of that, I'm not ready to completely discount his ability to succeed as a 4-3 left end power rusher.
At times he comes off the snap too high, giving up leverage to blockers. If he stays low and uses leverage and strength to his advantage, he is hard to stop. If he hopes to succeed as a pass rusher, he will have to stop relying solely on his strength to push blockers backwards and find other ways to get around tackles to put pressure on the quarterback.
If Clayborn is able to put on a little bit of weight, he should improve in run defense. At the moment, there are concerns that he would struggle to hold the fort from a 3-4 end spot. He can find the ball and, while some have stated otherwise, he appears as a patient player with above average play recognition skills. While already very strong as a pass rusher, he could stand to get a little stronger to shore up his run defense.
Clayborn opted out of the Senior Bowl and will not participate, raising more than a few eyebrows. The thinking was that Clayborn would have served himself well to participate given his drop from 11.5 sacks as a junior in 2009 to 3.5 sacks as a senior in 2010 (although a lot of that may be due to the added attention he received in 2010).
Clayborn was involved in an incident involving a taxi driver on January 19, 2009 in which it is alleged that he assaulted the driver by punching him after the driver honked the horn at him and used a racial slur. Originally charged with assault causing bodily injury, Clayborn plead guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct in early March 2010. The assault charge was dismissed and Clayborn was fined $100, but he'll likely have some questions to answer regarding the incident when he sits down with NFL teams before the draft. To his credit, Clayborn says he has learned from the experience and has vowed that it is something he will not repeat."Now that I know how to handle it, it's something I learned from," Clayborn said according to The Gazette, an Iowa newspaper. "I regret doing it, but I wouldn't take it back. I think it made me a better person."
Potential NFL Team, Round
Clayborn is a player whose draft stock has been all over the place. He was listed as the top overall prospect before the 2010 season by many draft pundits, but a fall off in sack production dropped him to a mid- to late-round pick according to some. Washington may look Clayborn's way with the 10th pick to play the 3-4 end position, while Miami picking 15th could also give him a look as a 3-4 end if they want to get younger along the defensive line. Jacksonville could be a good NFL home for Clayborn, as would Tampa Bay who picks 20th overall and could use another young defensive lineman to add to a unit that already includes Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. Despite a drop off in sacks and his decision to opt out of the Senior Bowl, Clayborn won't fall out of the first round. If by some chance he does, some team will get a monster steal in the second round.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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