Adrian Clayborn Under The Microscope

January 16th, 2014

Might Stephon Tuitt replace him?

The Bucs need heat on quarterbacks in the worst way.

How badly? Well, Joe can only imagine it’s like being parched on a broiling July afternoon in dire need of a cold beer but finding himself trapped in a dry county.

When then-rockstar general manager Mark Dominik drafted Adrian Clayborn in the first round in 2011, the Bucs had high hopes for him at right defense. But the past two years have been pretty much a waste.

Clayborn missed most of the 2012 season with a nasty knee injury and then was imprisoned in the silly Sheridan Stunts defense, where he was put in all sorts of weird, concocted stunts, ones that took him out of plays on loops. Former Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan even once devised a foolish move to actually have Clayborn guard one of the fastest running backs in the league, Darren Sproles, on passing downs.

Joe isn’t so sure Timothy Leary could dream up such nonsense.

Joe seemed to believe Clayborn was playing better in the final weeks of the season, as not everybody can be Adrian Peterson and bounce back from knee surgery in a year.

One thing new Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is doing is trying to find the best fit and the best way to use Clayborn, so Frazier said yesterday in his introductory press conference at One Buc Palace.

“I want to continue to study him a little bit,” Frazier said when asked about Clayborn. “He’s one of those guys, along with the rest of our roster, we are spending some time on to get a good feel for and make sure we do the right thing by him. I do remember him coming out of college. [Frazier and the Vikings] were scouting him. I had a lot of respect for his play at the University of Iowa. I want to get a better feel for him as an NFL player. We will continue to go through the tape and get an eval on him.”

What Frazier and Lovie Smith see of Clayborn in the coming weeks will directly influence personnel decisions by the Bucs. If Frazier and Lovie believe Clayborn still has the skillset to rush the quarterback off the edge in the NFL, they may decide not to draft another defensive end.

If Frazier and the Bucs believe Clayborn just needs pushing, perhaps Frazier reaches out to Jared Allen, who played for him in Minnesota, to see how much if anything is left in his tank.

Or, if Frazier and Lovie believe Clayborn is nothing more than a backup, perhaps a player in the draft like Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt will fall in the lap of the Bucs, in addition to a free agent pick up at defensive end?

44 Responses to “Adrian Clayborn Under The Microscope”

  1. satchel page Says:

    It sucks having to continually draft defensive lineman high in the draft.

  2. teacherman777 Says:


    Youre crazy!

    Adrian is tied for FIRST in the WHOLE NFL for “stuffs” this year!

    He had 14.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage!

    He was tied with JJ Watt and Lavonte David for


    DE’s should not only be judged by sacks!

    Yes, we need a 3rd down specialist to rotate with Adrian.

    But he is not a waste!

    He led the NFL with tackles for loss you morons!

    Who’s only judging him on sacks. The Bucs need an edge rusher. Big changes are coming, like it or not. Nobody knows where that will be. Don’t read so deep in between the lines. –Joe>

  3. BirdDoggers Says:

    Reading between the lines, but Frazier talked about the importance of having a pass rusher capable of getting the job done without the need to send an extra blitzer. He didn’t give the impression that he thought Clayborn was that guy. To be fair to Clayborn, he was coming back from a major knee injury, which usually takes over a year to get back to full speed. I think there will be changes along the D-line, as there should be. There hasn’t been a pass rush in Tampa in a long time.

  4. lev Says:

    He is the Mike Glennon of DE’s. He is the reason we had to run stunts. Shiano said it himself, with the current personal we would never be able to get sacks without stunts and blitzing.

  5. That Guy Says:

    You mean having Clayborn run stunts from one end of the line to the other wasn’t an effective strategy? Whoddathunkit?!?!

  6. Daffy Buc Says:

    Adrian led the Bucs in sacks his rookie year. If he had better coaching and a better scheme this year he would have had more sacks.

    I think you will see Adrian closer to his rookie year in 2014. These coaches have a clue and the defense is gonna be Beastly!!

    We will all yell ADRIAN like in Rocky, this year from RayJay!!

  7. Chris Says:

    Joe this where I question your skill and knowledge. If Clayborn isn’t the pass rush threat why draft Tuitt who is far from an edge rusher and more of a 3-4 5 technique?

    Come on dude.

    Perhaps you’re an NFL scout. Joe doesn’t know. But nobody knows yet how Tuitt will be evaluated. He very well could be considered a 4-3 base defensive end. Here’s one guy whose speed will really matter at the combine.–Joe

  8. Meh Says:

    A RDE must produce sacks. Period.

  9. teacherman777 Says:

    Adrian is a warrior.

    Have u ever seen him loafe?

    He is not a great pass rusher.

    So, sign a 3rd down specialist. Pass rushing extraordinaire!

    Its that simple. Adrian is a beast i. 1st and 2nd down.

    We just need a guy like Freeney to come in on passing downs.

    Care to explain how the Bucs’ rush defense got significantly worse this season when Clayborn returned to the lineup? Joe would love to hear your theory. –Joe

  10. TJ Ware Says:

    Preach on Teacherman the guy was at the top of several categories. Joe you always defend Gerald McCoy which I am also a huge fan of, you said he was a victim of many stunts.. But a stunt isnt a stunt unless there is at least another man involved, and Clayborn was usually the second stuntman. The guy was asked to drop back in coverage to cover receivers on crossing routes, he was asked to chase running backs on wheel routes. But he stuffed the run as good as anyone in the NFL and still had 6 sacks. Don’t call him a waste. Call him a product of his environment.

    Joe didn’t call Clayborn a waste. But Joe also has written about how somehow astute defensive minds on the Bucs’ previous staff didn’t think Clayborn was good enough to rush off the edge. Their D-line coach, Randy Melvin, had the same job with the Patriots and won a ring with Belicheat. Butch Davis was there, another D-line coach with a ring, as well as Bryan Cox. Plus Wannstedt and Schiano. Those guys determined Clayborn wasn’t going to be part of a successful four-man rush. Joe doesn’t think that’s a band of idiots, though the assessment of DaQuan Bowers leaves hope that they were wrong. –Joe

  11. Big Picture Guy Says:

    Might a 300lb rookie 5-technique with average (at best) pass rush skills replace the currently most productive DE on the bucs?

    Is this article based in reality????

  12. mike n Says:

    Clayborn vs cam jordan… ugh. That and the 2nd rd draft picks are the reason the DOM has fallen. Everyone made fun of Schiano’s scheme…. and I’m not the expert, but sometimes you you blits when you don’t want to and run stunts and crap like that because you don’t have the people on the ends that can win and get to the qb.

  13. kgh4life Says:

    In his rookie season Clayborn had 7.5 sacks, so he can rush the QB somewhat, and this was under Raheem Morris. He was injured in 2012 and for some reason in 2013 Sheridan decided that he could not rush the passer, and stood him up like a 3-4 OLB and him rush and covering RBs and TEs that’s not in his skill set. Clayborn has talent and in the right situation he could get you 10 sacks a season, however, he may not be that dominant pass rusher that can change the course of a game.

  14. Vic Says:

    @BigPictureGuy – And what exactly are Clayborn’s pass rush skills? I’ll bet you $50 Tuitt runs a faster combine 40 time than Clayborn’s 4.78.

    @mike n — Amen

  15. You Go Joe Says:

    Clayborn will get the opportunity to prove himself. He needs to improve and show us a 1st round talent. Has he? No. Can he? Yes. I like Clayborn because he can flash and be a beast, remember that Sack Fumble on Bress that got negated. He can be productive, and maybe Fraizer and the D line coach can do it. We have one of the greatest defensive minds for head coach and DC.

    Still being coach by guys with rings does not give it THAT huge of a credibility. It not like anyone else in our D line improve with all those coaches also. Double digit sacks anyone??? Bennett improving in Seattle??? There’s reason to Joes argument, but there’s no results in the rest of the team to prove it.

    Very hard to say Bennett improved in Seattle. Can’t buy that. –Joe

  16. Jonny 2.3 Says:

    Wow so many delusional folks in this thread.

    @teacherman77: A good RDE needs a lightning fast first step or great use of hands + strength like Jared Allen to get sacks in the NFL. Clayborn has neither and has only showed Greg Spires like upside so far. Its a pipe dream if you think Clayborn will ever be a sack master that can get 10+ sacks every year. Teams were doubling and tripling McCoy and often Clayborn had to only beat his man to get to the QB or at least pressure him. He did that so few times, its obvious that the guy is a solid back up at best.

    And no, just because he plays the run well should not mean he should play on two downs. Good DEs like Robert Quinn play all downs, Clayborn is too one dimensional to be a starting RDE in this league.

  17. biff barker Says:

    Clayborn is underachieving. It’s either the injury, stunting schemes or lack of skill/technique.
    Lest we forget he lines up next to one of the best DT’s in the game. McCoy takes all the double teams too.
    Sorry to those who disagree, but Joe is spot on. Remove the names and emotion. We are not getting sufficient production from the RDE position.

  18. oldfart44 Says:

    It is so hard to luck out in the draft when it comes to defensive linemen.

    Unfortunately, the Bucs have not done well lately with the exception of McCoy.

    But I am very confident that this coaching staff will get it done.

    I would rather pay an experienced, proven FA than a draftee.

  19. SAMCRO Says:

    With the way players are dropping like flies to injuries these days, having Clayborn as a 2nd teamer isn’t such a bad thing. He’s already signed and won’t become a free agent until 2015, so let him compete for the starting position. Even if he is relegated to 3rd team, he will provide good depth. At least we know how much he cost us. And it’s relatively cheap!

  20. Brandon Says:

    If Frazler came right out and said the team needed an edge rusher… Tuitt is nowhere close to that. At best in the Bucs D he would be a LDE, he could possibly be an UT as well. He is definitely not an edge rusher… no matter what he runs… he cannot run the arc, he doesn’t have that type of first step explosiveness… he just doesn’t fit at all.

    Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Kony Ealy, and a few others fit the bill of an explosive edge rusher…but not Tuitt.

  21. Architek Says:

    Let’s stop BSing ourselves, there is no production there and it’s not like he flashed consistently to warrant not drafting pass rush early.

    There is no reason to believe that he will all of a sudden turn into a dominant rusher is irresponsible for a new staff.

    They must evaluate objectionably and improve the team in general. If he’s on the bubble then it’s justified. I hope he is to succeed with our team but we have to raise our standard again and this is not Buc defense standard. This is Raheem and Schiano standard, let’s stop kidding ourselves.

  22. JT Says:

    I like the toughness and motor Clay brings to the defense. I think Lovie and Leslie will get the best out of him. However I still think we need a left end to compliment our d line that can really be a Simeon like player. So yes I would keep Clay and find a pass rush specialist to play opposite him. Hell maybe Bowers can be that guy. Schiano and Sheridan said no but really who cares what they think.

  23. Kalind Says:

    Hahah Joe, you heard me! Stephon Tuitt! Now I just need you on board with Louis Nix! Start banging the drum! (I’m available for empl at any time. Will work for free hahaha)

  24. pick6 Says:

    clayborn is not a complete DE or an elite pass rusher but he is very good at some things. i believe we finally have a coaching staff who understands that players like that are very valuable to a team when utilized correctly. clayborn deserves to stay, maybe even start, but on 3rd and long there should be a guy who can rotate in and scare pass protectors

  25. Kalind Says:

    As for my man Tuitt’s speed, it’ll matter, but not as much as it usually does. If we sign a FA or they mold Gholston, then the other Ends’ job will be to contain the QB and RB. Can you not see him setting the edge on every play? The guy is bigger than McCoy for goodness sakes. His job is to keep Lavonte clean, not chase down Newton. Set the edge for McCoy and Gholston/FA end. And he can do that. ESP if our first rd pick is Nix. (This from a guy that doesn’t like Notre Dame, but those two can play.)

  26. FearTheFlag Says:

    Lovie and his new coaching staff combined have about 100 years more experience in the NFL than Schiano and his staff!

    Clayborne (as well as virtually everyone else on this team that stays) will almost certainly benefit from that. High quality coaching, schemes, and play calling can make all the difference. Just ask Blount or Bennett!

    That said, adding another quality pass rusher certainly won’t hurt. Competition and depth always make a team better!

    I truly believe Lovie and our defense will make a punishing statement in 2014.

  27. cory Says:

    I have absolutely seen Clayborn loaf. If you haven’t seen it your delusional. Go back and watch the saints tape from the last game. I was there in person and he absolutely gave up several plays.

    Clayborn actually admitted effort issues. Here’s his quote, along with a video: –Joe

  28. NewTampaChris Says:

    As long as we don’t draft a DE from Clemson, I’m good.

  29. DWE Says:

    Joe, it concerns me that Frazier had the 31st worst D last year. I know he was not the DC but still he is supposed to be very def minded and of course is now our DC. What is your take on him? Did Lovie let frindship guide his decision?

  30. PRBucFan Says:

    They guy had 5.5 sacks stunting like a madman with 2 FF- All being used improperly.

    He proved his rookie season when he was in the running for defensive rookie of the year that he can indeed rush off the edge.

    The Bucs defensive staff regardless of previous successes obviously had a plan set on how to use a more athletic defensive end and AC was the only one that fit that bill. So he became the victim to that role lol. IMO

    You said it yourself, he he came off of a knee injury, this offseason will be very telling but IMO he will be used often.

    Like he said he’s excited to be used properly with his hand in the dirt.

    There will be lots of changes but AC IMO won’t be one of them.
    We may get another end for rotation but AC will still get his snaps I feel.

  31. PRBucFan Says:

    That quote you directed us to about AC loafing was not evidence to the slightest of AC loafing.

    The whole quote was in reference to the defense as a whole as he used “we” the entire time.

    If that’s the case their all loafers.

  32. Arealbucsfan Says:

    I say trade down and get Kony Ealy

  33. Joe Says:

    Look guys, Joe loves Adrian Clayborn. Really, really good dude. Joe isn’t saying he’s a bad player (notice Joe wrote about how he may not have been healthy until late in the season? Guess not.)

    The words Joe quoted came straight from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s mouth. It was less than a ringing endorsement of Clayborn.
    Clayborn was drafted to get sacks. He’s good against the run, yes, but this just in: The Bucs are horrible at getting to the quarterback.

    Nowhere in this post did Joe even hint that Clayborn should be cut.
    Don’t get mad at Joe if Frazier wasn’t doing cartwheels over Clayborn yesterday.

  34. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    I agree with Joe, we need major upgrades at DE. if You are described as “high motor” and “relentless” it means that you cannot get to the Qb quick enough.

  35. buc4lyfe Says:

    Non sense Joe

    You must really miss Greg Schiano….how many rookies in this year’s draft or any draft come out with enough pass rush moves to replace a former 1st round pick that’s down first round talent, only place they could find someone to push him is free agency and that’s not going to happen either…So ridiculous you have me agreeing with prbucfan, why you keep having ah ha moment’s about AC is beyond me, 5.5 sacks coming off surgery and a bad scheme is good enough

    Remainder deleted for your needless insults. Joe has no interest in babysitting your comments. Take a break (again). –Joe

  36. buc4lyfe Says:

    He’d go somewhere else and get double digit sacks….Wallace gillberry if Schiano was smart enough to cut that guy, get picked up after week 3 or 4 and still get more sacks than everyone on our team than I’d say people who actually know how to coach would do the exact opposite, i expect a big season from AC because he’s shown he’s a worthy starter, not his fault he’s had raheem morris and bill Sheridan as coordinators. Coaches coach so maybe all these guys we currently have start playing up to their potential, I’d rather see that than wasting more high picks on defense, IT’S THE OFFENSES TURN

  37. richardtyson Says:

    Two words Joe. Rock Star.

  38. Buccaray Says:

    Gotta love the off season. Seems we can just turn on, tune in, and type out any nonsense on virtually almost any subject, including AC. (who, by the way, has been injured and/or mired in ridiculous schemes pretty much his whole career).

    Joe, So sad that every comment up till now missed the best piece of your article. I, for one, came away with 3 specific thoughts. AC still has much to prove, Jared Allen is an intriguing FA for us, and I forgot the third..

  39. Buc1987 Says:

    Well said Buccaray. I concur.

  40. PRBucFan Says:

    False… lol 😉

  41. Jonny 2.3 Says:

    A lot of folks here seem to be misunderstanding Clayborn’s somewhat productive rookie season. Its obvious they do not watch games with a proper understanding. Our 2011 defense was a wreck and it all started upfront. We were often blindly focused on penetrating into the backfield through what ever gap possible without much of a gap integrity to get to the QB. The result was several stuffs of runs behind LoS or more often huge gains because of gaping holes created by our D-line.

    Price, Haynesworth and even Clayborn were all playing that way where they just seemed focused on getting to the backfield. A lot of big runs came from Clayborn’s side because he rarely sealed off the edge and instead often tried to outrun LTs over the edge. Watch those games and you would see several huge runs come towards Clayborn’s side.

    He probably was coached to play that way, I don’t blame him as much for that. But once he started playing like an actual DE that is responsible to defend both run and pass, he became extremely ineffective. He lacks speed to beat Tackles off the edge and isn’t strong enough to quickly disengage from his blocker to get to the QB.

  42. Bucs55 Says:


    I agree with you clay born came out as a bigger defensive end and was asked to lose weight to become more of a speed rusher by former defensive end coach keith millArd and had a great rookie year he was playing around 265 now he’s playing at 282 for schianos scheme ever since hes been at rutgers schianos dends have had low number on sacks because of what he. Requires of his dends I think only time will tell with clay born and as well as bowers they both need to lose some weight and play at there regular weight to fit this scheme

  43. bucs55 Says:


    our dline was a wreck that year it was because we lost our 3 technic Le in Mccoy for the year look it up before he got hurt we were doing good against the run

  44. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    We do need to fix some of the roster. Since this is the first year of the new regime, I am hoping to see “King Lovie” make some bold moves. First Move is to put a for sale sign on our DE. For Clayborne I hope King Lovie ask for a second round, with bottom negotiation being a higher 3rd round. I know that the Bucs would be selling at a low point. But if you have McCoy taking double teams you need some DE’s that can take advantage.