Height: 6’3 | Weight: 285 | Iowa
Pass Rush/Closing ability/Moves and counter moves: A good college pass rusher, Clayborn would struggle as a right defensive end in the NFL. He lacks the speed, secondary moves and agility to make it as a pass rusher. As a 3-4 defensive end, Clayborn will be asked to stop the run and, depending on the scheme, create pressure on the pocket. Does not show an ability to dip his shoulder or roll his hips to turn the corner- this must be learned. Has yet to develop a secondary move and relies purely on strength as a college player. As a college defensive end he is stronger than most tackles- this will not be the case in the NFL.
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.