Adrian Clayborn was supposed to have slumped in 2010 as a pass rusher, hurting his draft stock. His sack numbers certainly dropped. So why does it look Clayborn is a better pass rusher in 2010 than in 2009 on film? He isn't getting sacks, but he is beating his opponent more often and pressuring QBs more often. In this game against Michigan I had him down for 1 sack, 7 pressures and a blocked field goal in addition to numerous plays in the run game. That's pretty good for a defensive end.
Of course, the opposition for Clayborn wasn't great. He was going up against Taylor Lewan who, apparently, has a tattoo of a mustache on his index finger. Supposedly the redshirt freshman has NFL talent, but he's still just a redshirt freshman who got benched during this game. I assume he got benched because of two penalties that gave me flashbacks to Jeremy Trueblood, as his replacement was completely incapable of handling Adrian Clayborn. Lewan put up a fight, but whoever replaced Lewan had no shot against Clayborn. It didn't take that long for Michigan to put Lewan back in.
That Clayborn manhandled Lewan's replacement doesn't mean he struggled against Lewan, by the way, but he had an uneven performance against the mustachioed man. At times he beat Lewan cleanly and efficiently, using a variety of moves to get past the big man. At other times he got stood up and went nowhere.
Curiously, in this game Clayborn rarely made an inside move, even though those had been very effective for him. It seems like Michigan often tried to give the OT help inside by having the OG step to that side, but even without that I would've liked to see more inside moves than, well, none.
Clayborn again demonstrated what he does best in this game: terrific use of hands, a powerful upper body and when he plays with leverage he can do whatever he wants with an offensive tackle. That's also his biggest problem: playing with consistent leverage. Too often he's late out of his stance, gets high, and then gets into a stalemate with the offensive lineman. He can correct this with his upper body strength, but he won't be able to consistently do so in the NFL. Playing with proper leverage is something he will have to work on in the NFL, but the more I watch Clayborn, the more I'm convinced that he's going to be a very good player for the Bucs.
Fortunately, there's one reason this won't be that big of a problem in the NFL: he will not be used the way Iowa usedhim. Allow me to rant about the Iowa defensive line coaches: they did not get the most out of Clayborn. On film he is clearly best when he knows a pass is coming and can take off to beat the offensive lineman. In those cases he almost always beats the tackle, even around the edge, and impacts the play. But on the vast majority of plays he's asked instead to stand up an offensive lineman and play two gaps. When asked to do that, he's late off the ball and spends a lot of his time reading the play, then trying to shed and make a tackle if it happens to come to him.
It's no coincidence that after having spent a career being asked to two-gap, Clayborn has repeatedly said that he does not want to be in a 3-4 defense, but wants to play for an attacking 4-3 defense. With the Bucs' new defensive line coaches he'll be asked to play the run on his way to the quarterback, to shoot the gap and get home. That should fit his style much better, and it wouldn't surprise me if he turned into a better NFL player than he was as a college player.
2009 Week 2 vs Iowa State
2009 Week 11 vs Ohio State
2010 Week 2 vs Iowa State