clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2011 NFL Draft Grades: Tampa Bay Bucs and Adrian Clayborn

With the #20 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected defensive end Adrian Clayborn from the Iowa Hawkeyes. Clayborn was an interesting pick, as most people expected the Bucs to go with Cam Jordan or Da'Quan Bowers, but Clayborn is still a very talented player and would have been ranked much higher by analysts if not for his disappointing senior year.

Clayborn's senior year statistics don't do him justice; while he registered just 3.5 sacks this past year, he had 11.5 sacks in his junior year and was widely considered a top 10 pick at the time. And according to the SB Nation's blog on the Iowa Hawkeyes, there's reason to believe his senior year statistics aren't indicative of his true talent:

There was no shortage of potential theories for Clayborn's diminished impact in 2011 -- increased attention from offenses, more chipping from fullbacks and tight ends, injury (he was the victim of a particularly nasty-looking chop block in the Wisconsin game, although neither Clayborn nor any Iowa source ever acknowledged that as the source of any damage to Clayborn), strategic changes to cover up for the diminished capability of the linebackers behind him (i.e., more responsibility in edge containment and bottling up the running game), lack of effort, coasting on past accomplishments -- and, as is so often the case, the true answer is probably a mixture of all of the above.

Clayborn does have Erb's Palsy, a nerve condition he was born with that affects the strength of the right-hand side of his body, but he's battled through it to this point and compensated by strengthening his entire upper body. It shouldn't be a problem going forward, and the Bucs likely wouldn't have picked him if they thought it was a potential problem.

In the end, Clayborn is a very attractive pick that has some swirling question mark. Those question marks may prove to help the Bucs, though; there's no way they could have acquired a player with his upside if those questions hadn't been there. The Bucs are taking on some risk with this pick, but as Bucs Nation points out:

Clayborn is a great run defender. He's powerful, he can hold up offensive tackles, shed and make a powerful tackle. This should immediately help improve the Bucs run defense, which was really bad last year. Even if Clayborn doesn't turn out to be the pass rusher he was in 2009, he'll still greatly improve the Bucs defense with his run defense.

I'm cautiously going to rank this pick as a B+, with the upside for it to be an A. I love the thought process the Bucs showed with this pick, taking a bit of risk to potentially get a more talented player. And hey, they were right with Josh Freeman, so maybe the Bucs know something here that we don't.We'll also be updating this stream with full coverage and analysis of the Bucs' moves through the NFL Draft, so keep checking back at SB Nation Tampa Bay for more news.

Keep checking back with SB Nation Tampa Bay for the latest news and analysis surrounding the Bucs' moves in the NFL Draft.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.