Adrian Clayborn

Adrian Clayborne

Defensive End

Iowa, Senior

6’ 3” 282 lbs

Strengths: Size, Pass Rush, Power, basic football intelligence

Weaknesses: Weight, play diagnosis.

By Bryan Dietzler

The Iowa Hawkeyes have been very lucky to have such premier playmakers on defense over the past few years.  Bob Sanders, Chad Greenway and A.J. Edds are just a few of the guys that they have in the past and are finding some success in the NFL.  Who is the next great Iowa defender to come into the NFL? Adrian Clayborn.

Clayborn has been rocking opposing offenses for over three years now and is poised to enter the 2011 NFL Draft following his senior season at Iowa.  So what’s in store for the NFL when Clayborn comes into the league?  Let’s take a look and find out more about Clayborn.

Perhaps the biggest upside to Clayborn comes with his ability to get off the line of scrimmage quickly.  He has an explosive burst off the line of scrimmage at the snap and can use his quickness to beat the offensive player and get to the quarterback or disrupt the running play.  There aren’t too many offensive tackles that have had success against Clayborn since he began playing college football and there may not be too many that have success against him in the NFL.

He does anticipate the snap well and can be in the backfield in a hurry either taking down the running back for a loss or sacking the quarterback.  His moves at the line can also throw tackles off balance and he can get by them and make the play.

Another thing that Clayborn does well is that he is well aware of what is happening with the play before and as it develops.  He is able to diagnose plays either before or as they happen and can move towards the point of attack and make the play.  His never give up attitude and high motor keep him going at all times and he never gives up on a play.  He keeps moving until the play is over no matter whether he’s involved in it directly or playing away from it.

Clayborn has the size that that scouts want in a defensive lineman.  He stands 6’3” and weighs 282 pounds and this is the ideal size for an NFL defensive end.  His size allows him to not only rush the passer effectively but to also play well against the run which is something that he has been able to do while he’s been at Iowa.  He also has long arms along with great strength in his legs and his upper body. 

There are some things that Clayborn has, physically and mechanically, that should appeal to scouts.  First, he has great hand use and is able to use his hands to free himself of the blocker and get in and make the play.  With that, Clayborn also uses a variety of pass rushing moves that help him gain separation from the blocker and get to the quarterback.  

When it comes to defending against the run, Clayborn has some skill there.  He has the size and bulk to take on most running backs but may want to add a little bit of weight to take on some of the larger NFL running backs.  He can also blow up the play in the backfield thanks to his speed and ability to get around offensive linemen and chase plays down from the backside. 

Another interesting thing that Clayborn does is being able to keep the hands of offensive linemen off of his body and keep moving.  He is also very quick and can change direction at the drop of a hat. 

Clayborn plays well against the run and is the complete package when it comes to playing against both the run and the pass. 

Some of the things that Clayborn needs to work on is getting a little bigger without sacrificing speed.  NFL teams may want him to add ten to 15 more pounds just to be able to stand up against prototypical offensive tackles and running backs.  He could also get stronger but that will come when he gets into the NFL. 

There are some mechanical things that Clayborn needs to work on including making sure that he tackles better by wrapping up the ball carrier (using classic tackling techniques).  Sometimes he reaches out with just his hands and tries to grab and drag a ball carrier down and in some of these instances the ball carrier has gotten away from him.  Using the proper tackling techniques will surely help him get ball carriers down sooner.

He isn’t a speed rusher and won’t blow past too many offensive linemen.  He has to use his moves to get around or through offensive linemen.

Clayborn did have an off the field issue and it happened early this year.  He was arrested for assaulting a cab driver early this year but has not had any problems since.

Some of the honors that Clayborn has achieved while at the University of Iowa include:

2010: Lombardi Award Watch List, 2nd Team All-America by NationalChamps.net, First Team All-Big Ten by Blue Ribbon Yearbook, Lombardi Award Watch List, Playboy First Team All-American, Lindys First Team All-American and The Kickoff First Team All-American.

2009: Named the Orange Bowl MVP, second team by College Football Insiders, Hustle Team Award recipient, third team All-American by Phil Steele, National Defensive Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards, Honorable Mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly, first team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele, first team All-Big Ten by Big Ten Coaches and Media, Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the week against Michigan State, Big Ten Special Teams player of the week against Michigan State, ESPN.com Big Ten Special Teams player of the week against Penn State and AT&T All-American player of the week against Penn State.

High School: Clayborn was named two time first team All-State and All-Conference, earned all State and All-Conference honors as a tight end and a linebacker, named Missouri Player of the Year as a senior, conference Player of the Year as a senior.

In conclusion, Clayborn may end up being the first defensive end selected in the 2011 NFL Draft as long as he doesn’t get injured during his last few games as a Hawkeye.  He has the skill and desire to play right away in the NFL which will make him a high pick.  He has the pedigree to have a long and successful career in the NFL as well.

Will all of this college production will he be able to translate his skills over to the professional level?  Yes and he will do well in the pros.  Is his only black mark, the assault on the taxi cab driver enough to scare a few NFL teams away?  It’s doubtful as long as he keeps his nose clean heading into the 2011 NFL Draft.

Prediction: Top Ten Pick