We continue our breakdown of the prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft with a look at Iowa's Adrian Clayborn.
#94 DE Adrian Clayborn (6-3, 286 lbs.) Iowa
Clayborn played defensive end in a 4-3 in college, but he has the build to line up as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL provided he gains some weight. He had 3.5 sacks in 2010 after posting 11.5 sacks the year before, but despite the drop-off, he was a third team All-American and a first team All-Big Ten pick. He is slotted as a first-round pick and is thought to be one of the top defensive ends in the draft.
He isn't a burner, but possesses deceptive speed largely because he takes good angles when chasing down the ball carrier. Strength is a huge asset as he doesn't get pushed back often by offensive linemen. He holds up at the point of attack and sheds blocks well, making him a capable run defender who can either hold the edge or move down the line to get to the action. He reads where the run is going and disengages from his blocker using his hands. I see him as more of a gap filler than a pass rusher, but he has shown an ability to pressure the quarterback. His speed rush is average, but if he gets a jump, it is tough to recover against him given his strength. He also has a good rip move to beat linemen to the inside.
Occasionally he doesn't keep his pad level low, instead trusting his upper body strength to be enough. But when he maintains proper leverage he wins the majority of his one-on-one battles. As a pass rusher, he lacks that explosive first step needed to be a consistent force. Despite flashes of brilliance, I don't see him ever emerging as an elite pass rusher. Character issues are a concern as he skipped the Senior Bowl and also pleaded guilty to assaulting a cab driver in January 2009.
Perhaps he has less of a ceiling than other potential first rounders, but Clayborn appears to be a disciplined individual who will succeed in the right system. He might never be an impact player, but if he adds a little size he could fill a crucial role at defensive in a 3-4. Ultimately, the Redskins must determine whether they can justify taking a non-playmaker like Clayborn in the top 10. Jim Haslett is in need of a major upgrade along the defensive line and though Clayborn is not a glitzy choice, he might be the smartest one.