This will be the final piece in the series, as starting tonight, we can start analyzing Clayborn's actual play in an NFL. I still wanted to get out one piece on Clayborn's play against Gabe Carimi, probably the toughest matchup Clayborn faced in his career. Carimi was selected 29th overall by the Chicago Bears in this year's draft and is expected to step in at right tackle. While there are doubts as to his fit at left tackle, there's no denying that Carimi was a premier talent, and an NFL-ready player. That's why this matchup is so interesting.
What's most interesting about this matchup is how much attention the coaches paid to Clayborn. On the vast majority of snaps, Clayborn faced a chip or a cut block or a double team. Wisconsin didn't seem comfortable leaving Carimi on an island against Clayborn. That alone speaks to the defensive end's talent and level of play. When coaches pay attention to you by limiting their offense
Despite that, it wasn't all pretty when Clayborn went up against Carimi one on one. At times, Carimi managed to wall off Carimi from the play or push him back, especially on the first series of the game. As the game went on, though, Clayborn got a better feel for Carimi and managed to beat him. While Clayborn never really managed to beat Carimi in the running game, which is Carimi's specialty, he held his ground and closed some running lanes. He never really managed to shed Carimi and make the tackle, while that was something he did do very frequently in other games.
In the passing game, Clayborn looked much better. When he wasn't chipped or double teamed, he beat Carimi a number of times. Bootlegs, rollouts and quick passes were used to keep the Iowa defensive line from getting to QB Scott Tolzien. Despite that, and the chips and cut blocks, I had him down for 4 pressures and one strip sack.
I have to talk about that strip sack, by the way. It was a thing of beauty. Clayborn beat Carimi around the edge, but Carimi managed to half-push the defensive end by the quarterback. Undeterred, Clayborn reached out with one hand to swat the ball out of Tolzien's hand, who was in the middle of a throwing motion. Later in the game he tried to do the same thing, but Tolzien stepped up at just the right time, but that did force Tolzien to throw an inaccurate ball as he was off balance.
Interestingly, Clayborn was on the field for almost the entire game, but not all of it. He missed seven plays in the second half. Two of those missed plays weren't due to fatigue, but due to being hit in the knee on a cut block. He was back after those two plays to try to stop a 4th&1 try. That means 5 missed plays because of fatigue. One concern: three of those missed plays occurred on the crucial final drive of the game, and on his final missed play Wisconsin scored the winning touchdown.
Overall, Clayborn has missed a handful of plays in each game I've seen. Defensive linemen never play every snap in a game, though, so this is to be expected and it shouldn't be a problem for the Bucs. I didn't see much evidence of his wearing down in quality of play as the game went on, and he came across as a fiery and intense player throughout.
Clayborn has the talent to be a very good defensive end. He won't be Simeon Rice as an edge rusher, but his size and movement skills will allow him to do very well at the NFL level on all three downs. Having a solid interior push will really help his pass rushing, preventing QBs from stepping up. That interior push was missing at Iowa, despite DT Karl Klug being hyped up.
In a couple of hours we'll finally be able to see Clayborn in action. I'm excited to see how he will do.