Fans of one team are celebrating a Super Bowl win. Fans of 31 other teams turn their attention to the offseason, and with that the draft. This is a period of hope and excitement for a lot of fans. They can dream of new players coming in and setting records and old players suddenly breaking out. The failures of the previous season move to the background as the future comes into focus. And with that comes conjecture, amateur analysis and scouting college players.
One of those college players is Adrian Clayborn, defensive end for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Clayborn plays at a position of major need for the Bucs, and he's been showing up as their draft pick in a lot of Mock Drafts around the internet - for however much that's worth. Clayborn was seen as a top defensive end had he come out after his junior season, perhaps even the top defensive end drafted. But a disappointing 2010 season has likely dropped this senior out of the top of the draft, so there's a good chance he's available when the Bucs pick.
As a player, Clayborn is a power defensive end. There's not a lot of speed and burst to his game, and he won't be able to threaten the edge with any consistency at the NFL level. His impact likely won't come as a right defensive end in the NFL because of his limitations as a pass rusher, but that doesn't mean he won't be worth a first-round pick. Clayborn can be a very solid, 3-down player at left defensive end. His strength lies in shedding blocks and making the tackle. He has tremendous lower-body strength, and he's a good run defender. His violent use of his hands really stands out on film. He is constantly working to beat his man and get to the ball. And his power still gives him the ability to get to the quarterback, if not as consistently if he had some speed to go with it. Clayborn won't be a superstar, but as a defensive end he may be as safe a pick as you can get at that point in the draft.
The problem may be that he does come with some minor character concerns. In 2009 he was arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct for confronting a cab driver. Then again, that's the only concern there is about his character off the field, and no one questions his on-field character. He's a team captain for the Hawkeyes, and is mentioned as an on- and off-field leader for the team. One minor incident versus a career of being a great leader makes me think there's no real need for concern.
Of course, I'm just some random guy on the internet spouting off about a college player. My evaluation skills aren't much better than anyone on this site, but I base my opinion as much on other scouting reports as I do on what I see on the field. Looking at different scouting reports is also a good way to get a more complete view of a player: there may be things you're missing. Here are a couple of those scouting reports and what they say about Clayborn.
Mocking the Draft sees Clayborn as primarily a 3-4 defensive end, or a 4-3 defensive tackle. He has a lot of power and is dominant at the line of scrimmage, but won't make an impact as a pass rusher. They actually have some concerns about his ability to stop the run in a 3-4 situation, but the rest of his report reads like he'd be a great run defender in a 4-3.
NFL Draft Bible's scouting report was written after the 2009 season, so it's a lot more glowing about Clayborn than more recent write-ups. They see him as a great pass rusher who can play at right end, with the speed to turn the corner consistently. It's interesting to see how differently he was seen after his junior season, and it's quite possible that his senior season was simply a temporary slump and he still has all the talent that turned him into a likely top prospect after his junior season.
CBS's NFL Draft Scout sees him as a very strong and explosive player, but not a typical rush end because he won't threaten the corner. His power, violent hands and explosive punch allow him to threaten the quarterback, but he has no counter moves and will not do as well against NFL tackles. He uses his leverage well and consistently disengages from blocks. NFL Draft Scout thought he looked 'less sudden and relentless' in 2010, but that at least one team will feel they can get the best out of him and draft him high.
Draft Countdown's write-up is very similar. Physical, non-stop motor, great leverage, good run defender, sheds blocks well but lacks burst and isn't a dynamic threat off the edge. They also mention his limited upside.
With the First Pick sees him as a 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3, or a defensive end in a 3-4. He can't turn the corner, but he can collapse pockets from the inside. They also mention that he wasn't fighting nearly as hard this year as he was in 2009. If he's motivated, they think he can be a monster in the NFL though.
The National Football Post mentions the same things. A strong defensive end who can anchor and shed blocks, but isn't explosive enough to rush the passer well. They do see him as someone who can win on all three downs, and can play for ten years.
Sporting News's verdict is, again, similar. Strong, violent, sheds blocks, hits very well, but can't threaten the edge. And they too see him as a 3-technique DT or a 3-4 DE.