Has a good combo of strength and speed. Has the potential to hold up at the point of attack, and gets leverage vs. the run. Can shed the tight end and make the stop at the point of attack. Shows good speed and ability when playing in pursuit, and can chase down ballcarrier on the backside. Has a nice first step to get the blocker unbalanced and then beat them with an inside counter move. Uses his hands to work his way around the corner keeping the tackle from delivering a good punch, and can close on the quarterback to make the play. Flashes potential as a bull rusher because of his superior strength. Does a good job on inside stunts because of his power to knock the guard off the ball. Has good power, and will fight through blocks and double teams. Shows some ability to drop off into coverage on zone blitzes.
Inconsistent motor and effort at times. Can disappear for stretches of games and seem unengaged. Not as good at the point of attack as a player his size should be. Gets pushed off the ball at times and can only get off blocks several yards downfield. NOt that effective when going up against tackles as he is versus tight ends, and still doesn't consistently beat quality blocking tight ends at the point of attack. Can overextend at times and lose his balance when trying to get leverage vs. the run. Late reacting to the snap. Doesn't have the speed or burst to turn the corner, and doesn't quite know how to dip the shoulder. Needs to develop his pass rush moves, as his hand placement on the bull rush isn't great and his counter move isn't consistently effective.
Clayborn had a strong junior campaign, but his senior year was disappointing. Some of his drop in production was due to facing more double teams, as well as his teammates stepping up and making plays. But a big part of it seems like he was only going 75% most of the year. As a junior he had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, 11.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. Those numbers fell to 52 tackles, 7 for loss, 3.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble as a senior. His sophomore year as a full-time starter, he had 50 tackles, 8 for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Which makes it seem like the junior year was the aberration, and he might be a one-year wonder. He suffers from Erb's Palsy, but makes it hard for him to extend his right arm fully and have a complete range of motion and he doesn't have as much strength there as he does in his left, particularly when he was younger. It brings up questions about whether he can play on the left side of the line and how much upside he may have with what essentially amounts to one and a half arms. Plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in January 2009 for punching a cab driver after being called a racial slur. Was stalked for several months during his junior season by a co-ed, and she was sentenced to a week in jail and not allowed to contact him for another four years.
Clayborn has the style of play that would be good on the left side of the line. His combo of size and speed matches up much better with right tackles than against left tackles. I don't know enough about his medical condition to know how much it limits him. That's something for team doctors and the strength and conditioning coaches to decide how much functional strength he can have in that arm. In the end, it doesn't seem like that limiting a factor, just that maybe his rip move with his right arm won't be as good as someone else's. He doesn't have the burst to be a dynamic edge rusher. His success as an NFL pass rusher will largely depend on how proficient his hands and technique become. If he can improve his bull rush, he could be a solid complementary pass rusher from the left side. If he plays opposite a good speed rusher, his production should increase. I'm not overly concerned with the issues about his motor. But I do think he's a guy that could easily be hot and cold. He may lack fire and a killer instinct as a pass rusher. And he's the type of player that can get 10 sacks one season, and then the next year have two sacks. The player I would probably compare him to is Charles Grant, who had a similar size and frame, and flashed ability as a pass rusher. But was never really consistent. Clayborn is not a guy that I would completely trust in crunch time and may have a tendency to disappear at times. I think a team can probably get him to reach his full potential playing left end in a 4-3 scheme. I think he has the size and strength to play end in a 3-4, but he'd need to get much bigger because he's not really good stacking and shedding and would probably need to play upwards of 295-300 pounds to really be the type of guy that can anchor. In the end, he's a boom/bust prospect that may wind up being a 2-4 sack guy as a starter because he never develops the killer instinct or technique to take advantage of his skills. Or he'll be an 8-10 sack guy because those things do develop and he starts to play with more consistency.
Clayborn has a chance to be good in Atlanta. Getting a year of working with a guy like John Abraham and playing with several other players that are high motor guys I think would make it so that his questionable motor isn't a huge obstacle. But it'll likely come down to whether he develops that technique. Because of that, he might be a guy that gets off to a slow start, and really doesn't do much his first two seasons besides be OK in a rotation. He has the size and strength to play left end, and if he comes ready to play and takes well to coaching, he could definitely be a full-fledged starter by his second year. Or there is some Jamaal Anderson-like potential where he gets plenty of reps but doesn't make any impact plays for the first two or three years of his career. At the least like Anderson he can contribute in the rotation, but it's a bit of a toss-up whether he develops into an impact pass rusher. But he has the potential to be a Charles Johnson-like player if he develops.
Clayborn has first round potential, but questions about his motor, intensity, and consistency mean that he's a guy that should go near the end of the round. He'd be an even better value if a team could wait to snag him at the top of the second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 3.5
Point Of Attack: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.