All hope for Clayborn is gone

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Ask for more Fanposts and you shall receive. I've been wanting to write something up on Clayborn anyways.

With that said, when the Bucs signed Michael Johnson...Clayborn was done here. Will he still get a chance to prove he's a starter? Yes, but I don't see him prevailing. From the looks of things, the Bucs aren't confident either which explains declining his 5th year option (one of only a handful of 1st rounders that had options declined mind you). I'm going to look into a couple different angles on why this is his last year in a Bucs uniform.

Moving Positions:

Clayborn has likely played RE his whole life (I'll get to why in a minute). With the addition of Johnson, his services are no longer needed as a starter at RE. Some people think switching from one side of the DL or OL to the other is easy. It's not. It's a different mentality. LTs are generally quick footed, very technical blockers. RTs are generally less athletic then LTs but also technical as well as more powerful. REs can't run past LTs on every play because of their athleticism. They have to develop spins, swim moves, etc...if they want to get to the QB. LEs on the other hand, have to be strong. It's easier to pull off athletic pass rushing moves on RT, but if they can't bull rush the more powerful RT then they will be pushed around in the run game. A swim move going the wrong direction is kind of counter-productive. Seeing how Clayborn has always been a good run defender, you would think moving to LE is ideal. It's not. His bull rush is weak, and I think he'll get pushed around very easily.


We've already covered why RE is no longer open. However, the opposite is true of LE. Four guys are going in to camp looking to start at LE; Clayborn, Bowers, Gholston, and Means. Means might be the dark horse of the group but don't count him out. He's not likely to be a full time starter because he's undersized, but I could see him getting significant playing time on obvious pass plays. Bowers has been given plenty of chances to shine and has let us down each time. Apparently, he's never been healthy but durability matters too. You can't be a good player when you're sitting on sidelines hurt. However, if he's finally healthy, we could get to see why some had him going #1 in mock drafts until his knee got messed up. Gholston is my personal favorite for the starting job. He has the size and strength at LE that you want, as well as the pass rushing moves that are better suited for going up against a RT. He took advantage of the playing time he got last year and I think he keeps that momentum going into preseason.

Erb's Palsy:

I'm not a doctor. At birth he suffered from nerve damage that caused loss of range of motion and weakness in his right shoulder and arm. Now, it is worth noting that he went through physical therapy and overcame the loss of movement and strength. I'm sure this was heavily researched before the Bucs felt comfortable enough to spend a 1st round pick on him. This condition probably only allowed Clayborn to play RE growing up. On the right side, most of the pass rushing moves are using your left hand as the lead hand. Let's breakdown this highlight film on Clayborn:

1st play: Notice how he uses his left arm to cut inside the LT and get to Cutler. That's his bread and butter.
2nd play: Uses the LTs own momentum and his left arm pushes the LT away allowing him to get inside as Bowers throws Newton right into him.
3rd play: Swim move inside, knocks LTs hands away with his left arm.
4th play: He's unblocked and gets and easy sack.
5th play: Again, using that left arm to push the LT's hands away so he can go inside. This is the best camera angle to show what I'm talking about so far.
6th play: Running play outside the tackles. Good read to chase down the RB.
7th play: Watch this one closely. He was initially trying go outside, tried pushing the LT off with his right hand but failed. Mid-play he switches to a bull rush because the LT lost his footing which was a great choice. This play demonstrates the lack of power in his right arm though.
8th play: You can't really see him come off the line, but you see him grab the QB with his left arm, then promptly falls on him.
9th play: A run to the right in which he was left unblocked. Nice hit at the end though!
10th play: He shows off his athleticism. He dips his left shoulder and completely blows by the LT. A move that I'm unsure he'd be able to pull off against a RT.

These are 10 plays in his career. Hardly a large enough sample size, I agree. However, these are some of the BEST plays he's made. Not once did he dip his right shoulder off the line. This is not in his repertoire. Again, I'm sure his right shoulder and arm are fine. But growing up learning to mostly use his left had has to be a tough habit to break. He's obviously more comfortable using his left arm to knock away LTs and cut inside. That move doesn't work on RTs though. The equivalent is using his right arm to knock away RT's, something he hasn't shown he's capable of doing.

In the end, I think Clayborn will make the team this year but only as a back up RE. He just doesn't fit at LE. At 1.5 million, we can afford to keep him in case Johnson gets hurt. If he'd be willing to accept that kind of money going forward he might be re-signed to be a backup. Most likely he'll leave to pursue an open RE spot on another team for cheap.

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