Isn’t the most explosive guy initially off the snap as a pass rusher and isn’t going to threaten the edge at the next level. However, for such a big defensive end, he exhibits impressive nimbleness and lateral agility to break off a sudden inside move off his initial outside pass rush. Exhibits a quick arm over with the ability to cleanly change directions and gain a step inside. However, allows his pad level to rise and will lose balance, giving athletic offensive tackles a chance to push him past the play. But has a powerful base and can really generate a jolt on contact as a bull rusher.
However, it’s his balance, body control and ability to gain leverage on contact that allows him to be so effective disengaging in the pass game. Isn’t simply a push/pull guy as his lateral quickness paired with his power allow him to consistently shed on contact.
Impression: Isn’t your prototypical speed rusher. However, he’s a guy who can win on first, second and third down for you at the next level at either defensive end spots. Looks like a potential ten-year vet."
Run defense: Active and stout run defender who stays square to the line of scrimmage and often gives a second and third effort. Plays with leverage, able to stack tackles and shed in either direction using strong hands to get to the ballcarrier -- even if pushed off the line a bit by stronger tackles. Feels cut blocks, keeps his eyes up and uses his hands well. Uses his hands to use tackles' momentum against them. Flows through traffic, keeps his feet moving, and separates from linemen with active hands on inside runs. Lowers his shoulder to anchor against pulling guards behind the line, helping linebackers stay free. Consistently keeps contain on his side of the line, able to change direction to chase down backs going for the sideline. Lack of height allows larger tackles to engulf him.
Explosion: Doesn't have the typical explosive first step of most rush ends because of his girth and lack of ideal height. He is considered an explosive player against the run and pass, however, because he owns among the strongest punches and most effective hands in the class.
Strength: Uses his low center of gravity and strong upper and lower body to play with great leverage. Consistently out-leverages his man and disengages from blocks with strong and violent hands. Lacks height to block field goals but provides good push and penetration inside; also a factor on punts as protectors cannot handle his strength and quickness.
Tackling: A productive tackler at the college level because he is very active and stays square and low, but his technique is not always sound. Strong arms allow him to be explosive when coming straight on and force fumbles by ripping or simply creating a big impact. Punches blockers in space to keep them from latching on, stays alive to make a play. Doesn't have great length, so he will often slip or bounce off ballcarriers; his initial impacts may be strong enough to bring down college backs, but NFL backs may have more success staying alive.
Intangibles: Unquestioned emotional leader of the Iowa defense on and off the field. Named a permanent team captain and praised by coaches for his character and work ethic. Teams will check out nerves in his right arm and neck to ensure the Erb's Palsy he suffered at birth is a non-issue. Charged with assaulting an Iowa City taxi driver in January 2009 after reportedly confronting a taxi driver who honked his horn in traffic jam. Pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in March 2010, but was not suspended by Iowa coaches because they felt the situation required only minor internal penalties."
Pursuit/Lateral movement and agility: Is quick on his feet and can make plays in the backfield. Has the speed to chase down the line and to the second level. Will catch players from behind. Does a good job working down the line of scrimmage and keeping his eyes on the ball carrier. A very high-motor player.
Quickness/Explosion: Is very dominant playing at the line of scrimmage. Has the quickness and burst that NFL general managers covet. Can explode into the offensive line and generates tremendous push into the backfield. Lacks the speed to be a pass rusher in the NFL and must move to a 3-4 defense or play inside at tackle.
Run defend/Recognition: Clayborn’s play recognition can be slower than expected. He has improved as a senior in this area. Does a better job recognizing the pass than run. Can be fooled with play action. Is a strong player, but can be pushed around when trying to anchor against the run. Must add weight/strength to improve his ability to sit down in a hole and plug. Clayborn has shown good instincts and natural reactions. Has an almost uncanny ability to find the ball.
Size/Length/Hand size: Is tall and lean. Could add bulk to his lanky frame. Doesn’t have the big bubble that is expected of an interior lineman. Has the frame and look of a defensive end.Has the height to disrupt passing lanes. Can get in the way of quarterbacks vision and release. Has the length to reach into the backfield when engaged by a blocker. Has a powerful punch that can knock blockers off their stance.
Strength/Ability to shed blocks: Is a fighter when getting off blockers. Does a great job using his hands and lower-body strength to come off a block. Is strong enough to hold up blockers, but could struggle against NFL tackles.
Tackling: Does a very good job making the tackle when being engaged by the blocker. Keeps his outside arm free and locates the ball carrier. Will get careless and try to knock runners down instead of form tackling, which leads to missed tackle opportunities. Most impressive when making tackles in traffic. Does a great job in this area.
Technique/Hand use/Leverage: Has advanced hand use for a college player. Has a good slap move. Keeps his hands up and uses them to disengage blockers and create separation from blockers. Will fire out too high at times. Must do a better job staying low to assert his leverage. As a pass rusher he is not overly technical, using strength to over-power blockers. Does a nice job punching to create separation. Does not attempt to alter his body or position to gain leverage (shoulder dip, hip roll, etc). Must develop secondary moves or will be too predictable for NFL blockers.
Versatility: Able to play in the 3-4 or 4-3 defense as an end, tackle or left-end in the 4-3. Has potential as a Pro Bowl player at any of the three positions. Projects best as a 3-4 defensive end.
Final Word: Clayborn is highly regarded by scouts and NFL Draftniks alike. Other scouting services have him currently ranked as their #1 overall player. We like Clayborn, but to date we have doubts about his ability to stop the run. As a 3-4 defensive end Clayborn will be asked to anchor against the run first and foremost. While his pass rushing skills are impressive, they will not be a factor when playing in a 3-4. As a 4-3 left end or defensive tackle, Clayborn has more value as a pass rusher. In the end, Clayborn will be best served as a 3-4 defensive end, but his talents coming out of Iowa are that of a defensive tackle. There will be a learning curve, ala Glenn Dorsey, for Clayborn."
Clayborn recorded 184 tackles and 19 sacks throughout his four year collegiate career.
Clayborn is projected as a top-10 pick.
He was a four-star recruit coming out of Webster Groves, Missouri, in 2006, and won the Orange Bowl MVP award as a redshirt sophomore in 2008 after picking up nine tackles with a pair of sacks.
If Clayborn is able to keep his head on straight, he has the type of talent that a team can build their defense around.
Simply put, Clayborn is a dominant force in the backfield. He excelled in stopping the run in college, as his combination of a wide frame and great strength made him very tough for offensive linemen to deal with. He’ll never give up on a play, and is deceptively quick for a guy that weighs 285 pounds. Clayborn would be at his best as a 3-4 down lineman in the NFL, likely as an end playing in a five technique. One of his greatest assets is his explosiveness off the snap that he often uses to knock linemen off balance. He’s also great at using his hands and his lower body strength to help himself shed blocks. Clayborn is a guy that won’t overwhelm you on paper, but his impact on the game is evident when watching him. He’s a consistent nuisance in the backfield, and has both the skills and physique necessary to succeed in the NFL.
Clayborn’s biggest criticism is that his skills aren’t typical of an NFL pass rushing defensive end. He has decent primary moves, but relies too much on his brute strength as a pass rusher. He can bully your everyday college offensive lineman, but will struggle to overpower many NFL blockers. His mechanics could use some work, and he isn’t as fast as your standard pass rushing defensive end. As touched on above, his skills may limit him to playing in the NFL as a 3-4 defensive end. He played some defensive tackle at Iowa, but lacks the width to play the position effectively in the pros. If he can learn to dip his shoulder and rotate his hips better when working against linemen, he’ll be a real menace on the defensive front.
By all accounts, Clayborn is worthy of being a top 10 pick in April’s draft. In the NFL, 3-4 defensive ends are typically depended upon to stifle the run. However, Clayborn is talented enough to make things happen despite any physical disadvantage. Pass rushing isn’t his strong suit, but if he’s playing as a 3-4 end as a pro, he won’t be depended upon too much in that regard. He’ll likely start his career as a defensive end, but if he’s able to put on some weight, he could eventually become a tackle. Keet Bailey has Clayborn going 10th overall to the Washington Redskins in his first three-round mock draft, and he could rise before April comes around.
NFL Player Comparison: Glenn Dorsey"
Positive: Explosive defensive end who constantly makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. Plays with good knee bend and leverage and displays outstanding first-step quickness. Fluid moving around the field, easily changes direction, and gets out to the flanks in pursuit. Rarely off his feet, plays with good balance, and shows speed off the edge and in backside pursuit. Possesses a terrific burst bearing down on the play and gets a lot of momentum going up the field.
Negative: Struggles getting off blocks once engaged at the point. Handled by a single opponent at times. Coming off a disappointing senior season. Has a shoulder disorder that's been with him most of his life."
Negatives: Does not have the speed to continually beat tackles around the edge at the next level... Can play with too high of a pad level... Not the greatest range in the run game... Can struggle to get down the line and chase down ball carrier on plays away from him... Not someone to drop in coverage on a regular basis... Does not give a consistently good effort in run pursuit... Loses stamina as the game moves on... Had just two sacks and was slowed by an ankle injury in 2008... Plead guilty to disorderly conduct in March, 2010 after being originally charged with assault causing bodily injury in 2009."
Weaknesses: Character can be questioned as he punched an Iowa City taxi driver who honked at him in January of 2009. Clayborn wears down, not only during games but even within series as was displayed at times in the Insight Bowl against Missouri. At times he was single blocked and could not disengage. Too often his pad level gets high when engaged with blockers, he must stay low. His first step could be improved. He can be fooled by play fakes and misdirection. He will struggle to rush the passer in the NFL. He will not be able to rely strictly on his strength to beat tackles in the NFL like he has in college. Clayborn was born with a condition known as Erb's Palsy, something that is caused during birth by an injury to the nerves surrounding a child's shoulder. Because his head and neck were pulled to the side as his shoulders passed through the birth canal, he suffered nerve damage resulting in the loss of some movement and weakness in his right arm. Clayborn underwent physical therapy throughout his young life and eventually overcame the limitations caused by the disorder.
Projection: He has drawn comparisons to Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, Clayborn is a better pass rusher with foot work, burst, hip fluidity, and explosiveness, but he may not be as powerful in the lower body and is just a bit smaller than ideal as a 5-technique DE, he may project to 3-technique DT who may play LDE in special packages. It is unlikely, despite a few legitimate concerns, that he makes it past the 20th selection of the 2011 NFL Draft."
Clayborn projects as a pass-rushing defensive end at the next level. He plays fast and uses his athleticism to rush the edge. He uses good pad leverage, which is impressive for a man of his height (6'4"). Quickness and surprising strength come together to create an early first round lock type of prospect. Where scouts will find flaws is in his ability to play fundamental football: tackling and assignment football.
Clayborn plays a bit reckless and relies too much on his athleticism at times. In trying to make a big play every down, he can take himself out of plays by going for the sack or taking a bad pursuit angle on a ball carrier. Since he's so quick, he can get away with it sometimes and other times, he cannot. Most likely, he is a good fit as a 4-3 defensive end where he can stick his hand in the dirt and chase down quarterbacks. He could succeed as a 3-4 DE if given time to develop and add more bulk. He is a lock for the first round, especially after he puts up good times in the 40 and cone drill at the NFL Combine."
The greatest concern evaluators will have leading up to the draft — and what figures to be one of the more highly debated subjects — is regarding the Erb's palsy that was diagnosed at birth. Characterized by paralysis in his right shoulder, it has not stopped him from becoming a dominant player at the college level. However, in a league that preys on weaknesses and isolates matchups, it could become more of an issue whenever he is outflanked in the pros. It could create enough concern from a medical standpoint to slide him out of the top 10.
He plays with power and violence, has extremely strong hands and is superb slip-shedding blocks. However, to fit into an odd front, he will need to be able to play right- and left-handed, and he will need to clear a battery of tests at the Combine for decision makers to feel comfortable with selecting him with a very high pick."
Adrian Clayborn seems, to me, like a guy who's exceptional Anchoring Power, great Hands, and outstanding Punch are going to enable him to forge a solid career, despite his size. But I do believe that his height ~ 6.25 ~ and his short arms ~ 32.5 ~ are going to dramatically limit his effectiveness as a Pro.
He is currently projected for the 1st Round, but my belief is that that ranking is a function of a successfull college career for a big school, and not his potential as a Pro.
I consider the guy a 3rd Rounder.
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