Positives: Clayborn has good size, a good frame and he is very strong. His frame is well filled out, he has some of the most violent hands in the draft and he plays the run very well. He can rush the passer but I don’t think he will be a dynamic pass rusher in the NFL. He has above-average burst off the line of scrimmage, impressive hand usage, and is so strong that he can bull rush tackles. He plays smart and has a good motor at times, he also flashes the strength and the hand usage to slide inside to DT on passing downs. Clayborn is also a very good tackler and wraps up well, plus flashes some explosion as a hitter and closes pretty well for a guy of his size. He does have good leadership capability and was one of the leaders, if not the leader, of Iowa’s defense and was one of the main faces of the team along with Ricky Stanzi. Clayborn has a good amount of starting experience and has shown the ability to produce whether he is the focal point of the opposing teams game plan or not.
Negatives: Clayborn definitely disappointed me this season because he just didn’t seem to play with as much passion and reckless abandon as he did last year. Last year he looked un-blockable at times even when facing double teams. This year he faced similar obstacles but he just did not produce like he did as a junior. His motor was not consistent this year, he didn’t seem as effective versus the run and overall seemed throttled down from his non-stop motor last year. He doesn’t have a great first step to help give him an advantage off the edge as a pass rusher either. It is pretty good, but because of his lack of elite edge speed he won’t be beating a lot of NFL OT’s off the edge. He also doesn’t have a lot up his sleeves as far as pass rush moves are concerned beyond a rip move and a bull rush. He also has Erb’s Palsy which hasn’t been an issue for him until now but you never know whether it will be in the future.
Overall: Clayborn is a quality prospect because you have a pretty good sense of what he can do. The concerning part about him as a prospect is not what he is capable of but whether you are going to get the Adrian Clayborn from his junior season or whether you will get the throttled down Clayborn from his senior season. I think he may have been playing through some nagging injuries this year, but without knowing that for sure I would still like to believe that he will play more like he did as a junior than he did as a senior, but no one knows that for sure. That makes him a bit of a risky acquisition, and it makes the interview process even more critical for him. I think Clayborn will have a long NFL career barring a premature end from injury or from his Erb’s Palsy, but I don’t think he will ever make more than one pro-bowl and I don’t think he will be a 8+ sack guy at LE. However, I do think he can get 5-6 sacks a year, play the run well, consistently play his gaps well and help collapse the pocket from that position. But that doesn’t sound like a guy who is worth a top 20-25 pick which is where he is projected to go. That sounds more like a mid 2nd rounder or maybe even a 3rd round pick. Therefore I could see Clayborn getting drafted in the 1st round but not ultimately living up to that draft status despite being a dependable player.
Projection: Top 30 picks. I would be surprised if he slid out of the first round considering his reputation and he still has a pretty good chance of being a top 20 overall selection. I just don’t think he is worth that high of a pick considering his production the past two seasons and how well his game translates to the LE position in a 4-3 in the NFL. I just don’t think he will be as dominant as he was as a junior in the NFL, therefore lowering his draft value.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 3.0
Point Of Attack: 3.5
Thanks for reading!