DE- Adrian Clayborn
Weight: 285 lbs.
Great Fit For: Texans, Titans, Lions
Elite pass rushing defensive lineman are always quick to come off of the board on draft day. This year’s draft will not be any different. One of those guys sure to go in the top half of the first round is Adrian Clayborn from Iowa. While Clayborn will make NFL teams drool, there are a few things to worry about before taking the 6-3 285 pound defensive end.
On the plus side whoever drafts Clayborn will be getting a very good pass rushing defensive end. He can be a dominate pass rusher and his quickness totally took over the Hawkeye’s Orange Bowl win in 2010 over Georgia Tech. His quickness and speed will be a headache for any tackle who doesn’t have quick feet. He has the ability to run down plays from the back side and needs to be addressed by opposing offenses even if the play is not coming to his side.
The down side to the Hawkeye pass rusher starts with his possible character issues. He got into an altercation with at cab driver, ended up punching him and got a disorderly conduct charge leveled against him. Clayborn plead guilty to the charge. The other concern teams should have has to do with his on the field short comings.
While he is not a small man even by NFL standards, he is going to have some trouble when teams run right at him. He is athletic enough to deal with trap blocks and misdirection plays, but might have some trouble when physical teams run right at him. He is athletic enough to force some teams to double team or chip him in the passing game, but he will not be the kind of guy who will deal well with a double team. Few defensive linemen do well against a double team of course, but it will limit the teams he will able to have success with.
Clayborn should be a fine end in a 4-3 defense, but I don’t see him working well in a 3-4 scheme. Ends in a 3-4 need to be physical and hold up against double teams. The biggest responsibility of a defensive lineman in a 3-4 is to free up the linebackers by eating up blocks. Run right at him and Clayborn loses some of his effectiveness. Unless Clayborn puts on some weight I don’t see him being an effective every down player as a 3-4 defensive end.
A number of teams would be a good fit in the first half of the first round. Since Clayborn will be most effective in a 4-3 many of the teams at the top of the draft will pass on the Hawkeye. I don’t believe he will go in the top five so the teams who run a base 4-3 with picks 6-15 include: Tennessee, Houston, Detroit, Minnesota and St. Louis.
The Titans could use some help opposite Jason Babin to improve their front four pass rush. He would be a great fit with the Texans who seem to always be looking to upgrade their defense. Lining him up next to Ndamukong Suh in Detroit would give the Lions a scary foundation on the defensive line.
In the right system Clayborn should have a long, successful career, but if he is put in a defense that plays to his weaknesses instead of his strengths, he will be just another journeyman or situational player.