Zach Clayton, DT, Auburn

Scouting reports of the defensive tackles in the 2011 Draft.
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Zach Clayton, DT, Auburn

Postby Pudge » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:13 pm

Auburn Senior
40: 4.87


Has a good motor and shows a decent enough first step to get penetration and press the pocket. Is able to work laterally down the line and make stops in pursuit. Better athlete than he looks and is able to close on scrambling passer in space. Shows ability to beat the guard with a swim move and flashes potential as a bull rusher. Gets some push and willing to take on double teams.


Needs to do a better job anchoring at the point of attack, and can get swarmed under by the double teams. Doesn't really get off blocks and make stops at the point of attack. Gets redirected too easily.


Clayton is a nice disruptive player that was probably aided by playing beside Nick Fairley. But he had a solid year for Auburn, and is a guy that has the ability to compete and fit well in a one-gap disruptive scheme. He finished the year with 28 tackles, 8 for loss, and 1 sack. He served as a backup his first few seasons, but was productive in a limited role, having 22 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 4.5 sacks as a sophomore. Had his junior year cut short by a high ankle sprain which forced him out of 7 games. He also competed at track at Auburn, being part of the discuss and hammer throw during his sophomore year.


Clayton should be able to carve a niche for himself as a reserve rotational guy in a 4-3 scheme. He has just enough size and strength to play in a 3-4, but his upside is limited. He's not a space eater much, but much more effective when he can use his quickness and strength to be disruptive. He's not a playmaker, and many of the plays he made were thanks in part for having a player like Fairley across from him. But he is a contributor that can help stuff the run. He needs to get better there, but flashes the sort of hand use and leverage that you want to see in that role. He's probably a career backup, but is comfortable playing the nose spot. The player I could compare him to is someone like Jeff Zgonina, who managed to have a very long NFL career as a rotational guy and nose player. He'll have a sack here and there when the QB steps up in the pocket, but his value is as a No. 4 guy that can help stuff the run and put some pressure on the QB.


Clayton is a good fit in Atlanta because of his motor, strength, and ability to help beef up the run defense. In the Falcons scheme, he would have a role comparable to Vance Walker as the No. 4 defensive tackle. He's good enough to give Walker a run for his money, but probably is destined to the practice squad as a rookie. A year or so down the road, and he should improve enough to make the roster outright. He'll never be flashy, but coaches will appreciate because he's a hard-worker and manages his role fairly well. He can help keep better and more impactful tackles fresh, and occasionally contribute to make a stop or sack every now and then himself.


Clayton adds depth to the roster, but because of his limited upside as just a role player he probably only merits seventh round attention.

1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Strength: 3.0
Point Of Attack: 2.5
Quickness: 3.0
Pass Rush: 2.0
Motor: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.

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