I Hope You’re Right, Mark

Adrian Clayborn was the Bucs' first pick.
Adrian Clayborn was the Bucs' first pick. /

The Bucs have made their selection in the 2011 NFL draft and it was Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn is a big, strong D-lineman from Iowa who looks to help fill a need for the Bucs along the line, that need was run-defender more so than edge-rusher though. I won’t lie, really dislike this pick. I think the Bucs had a shot at several much more talented players and they decided to select a player that is more safe than dynamic. Adrian Clayborn is not going to be an elite pass-rusher, he’s adequate in that capacity but he isn’t going to apply the kind of pressure the Bucs need to get. He’ll stop the run extremely well, he’s high-effort, he’s high-character, but he’s never going to turn into an elite player of the sort that the Bucs need. Depending on whether the Bucs can fill their need for a pass-rusher in rounds two or three I have a feeling the Bucs will be in the market to improve their pass rush again next year too.

I really couldn’t have been more disappointed last night in this selection, the Bucs are reportedly going to cut Aqib Talib and yet they have failed to add to their pass-rush in the meantime, instead opting to bring in a player better-suited to stop the run from the end position. I hope I’m wrong, Dr. Mark McKenna is very high on Adrian Clayborn and actually predicted he would be the pick, I just don’t see it personally. He’s not a a true pass-rusher, he’s not a 4-3 rush-end, he’s a fairly pedestrian 3-4 DE or he’s frankly better suited to play inside in Tampa’s system. Explain to me why I should be excited about this pick when in the last two drafts Tampa has spent a one (Gerald McCoy), a two (Brian Price) and a three (Ian Miller) to address the interior and that’s arguably where Clayborn is best suited to play.

Tampa needed a corner or a rush-end, Jimmy Smith was there, Da’Quan Bowers was there and Akeem Ayers was there. They decided to take Adrian Clayborn and I don’t see that pick working out like I think a lot of fans hoped it would.  Good player, wrong system.

Now, that’s not to say I think Adrian Clayborn won’t be solid, he’ll come in and play against the run extremely well, he’ll provide a good push and drive back the blocker in front of him. And the Bucs do need to address their Run-D too, lord knows that was horrendous last season. I just don’t think he’ll ever be a player who finishes a season with a double-digit sack total and that type of player was still on the board. He’s not the kind of player you have to game-plan for. He isn’t dynamic like other players have the potential to be. He’s safe, he’s solid, he’s unsexy.

At 6’3 285, Clayborn doesn’t have the prototypical build for a pass-rushing 4-3 end and he lacks the initial burst and quickness. What Clayborn does possess is impressive strength and tenacity. He uses great leverage, he gives second and even third-efforts. He’s the kind of player you want in the locker-room and he will give his absolute best to the Buccaneers. I have nothing against Clayborn and I absolutely wish him the best. I just don’t know if he was the right player for the Bucs at that spot.

I thought the Bucs should have tried to trade out of the spot or they should have picked a player who can really come off the edge. They narrowly missed getting Prince Amukamara (who went 19th). Clayborn does address a need, I just think the order needed to be flipped, Tampa could have gotten the pass-rusher in round one and the run-stopper in round two. I see Clayborn as a potentially fantastic player if paired with an elite edge-rusher, but he’s not going to be. And I don’t see him handling the extra focus on him with much success early on.

Clayborn will come in and help the Bucs run D substantially, maybe he can grow into a pass-rusher. I just don’t think he brings the kind of prototype frame or quickness to ever be more than serviceable in that capacity. I do think he’ll do well for the Buccaneers and I think Tampa will add another rush-specialist today.

Mark Dominik knows football, he’s bright and I trust him. I just hope he’s right.