PROS: Has good speed and athleticism. Can make plays in pursuit and moves well in space. Shows closing burst to make stops in pursuit. Has good hips and is able to turn and run with receivers in the slot. Shows nice awareness in zone coverage.
CONS: Undersized linebacker that doesn't always do a great job breaking down at the point of attack and will whiff on some stops in the open field.
OVERVIEW: He was mainly a coverage linebacker that is a bit of a tweener at linebacker and safety. A very productive two-year starter that combined for 159 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 6 sacks, 3 picks, 14 pass breakups, 8 forced fumbles, and 2 recoveries in those years.
NFL FORECAST: Right now he's a tweener that I think could make a move to safety on the next level. If he's going to stay at linebacker he's going to need to bulk up. I would compare him with Cato June, and in a Dungy-style defense that likes to have fast, rangy linebackers and drop them back into coverage a lot, he can work. He'll never be a great run defender even if he does get bigger, but he can be a competent WILL linebacker like June was in Indianapolis. As a safety, he'll work best in a scheme that likes to bring him up to play in the box at strong safety, but he should be able to match up in coverage with backs, tight ends, and the occasional NFL wide receiver. He's a bit of a work in progress there, but within two years he could be good enough to be a capable starter. I don't see him as a great safety, but could be a competent starter for a few years in the right scheme. Probably most likely however is that he stays at linebacker, bulks up a little and specializes as a nickel guy. But due to the ever increasing need for versatile starters that can play all three downs, linebackers that just play in coverage aren't as common today as they were 5-10 years ago, so I'm not sure how prevalent that niche is. He shoudl at the very least be a capable NFL backup that if he can play well on special teams early in his career, can develop down the road into a decent, albeit limited starter at linebacker.
ATL FORECAST: You like Clayton in Atlanta mainly because he could immediately come in and be the team's best cover guy at linebacker. He'll need at least a full-year to bulk up before you can expect him to make significant contributions on defense. Eventually he probably fills a similar role as Coy Wire does that can function in situational football like in goalline situations where you pull a defensive back off the field to beef up the right, but still want a guy that can cover in case the offense passes the ball. He's probably not a starter, at least not long-term, but because he can play in coverage, he would be a decent WILL linebacker in our scheme.
VALUE: Because of his limited potential as a starter, Clayton probably shouldn't be taken higher than the fourth round as a linebacker. For a team interested in moving him to safety, probably take him a round later just because of the extra time it takes for him transition.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
PASS RUSH: 2.5
Scouting reports of outside and inside linebackers in the 2010 draft.
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