Adrian Clayborn may not have glossy statistics, but his talents as a defensive end still make him an attractive prospect to pro football scouts.
That’s the view of ESPN analyst Matt Millen, who covered last weekend’s Iowa-Ohio State showdown at Kinnick Stadium.
“He has a skill set you can’t find,” said Millen, an NFL linebacker from 1980-91. “Everybody will look at numbers. All that stuff is a bunch of crap. The stuff that matters is, ‘What can you do?’ ”
Clayborn’s numbers are down from last year, when he led the Hawkeyes with 20 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound senior from St. Louis enters Saturday’s regular-season finale at Minnesota with seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
“The one thing I’ll say about Adrian, sometimes he gets a little tired in there,” Millen said before Iowa lost 20-17 to the Buckeyes. “You don’t get the great effort that you want to see all the time, but he has some things you can’t teach.
“That’s what you draft.”
Last summer, some national pundits were touting Clayborn as a possible top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Now, there are questions as to whether his stock might have dipped.
“That stuff will sort itself out,” said Millen, who spent nine seasons as president and CEO of the Detroit Lions.
“Every draft is different. You could say he was going to be a top-10 pick a year ago, because maybe there were no D-linemen. This year’s class is completely different.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has defended Clayborn’s performance.
“He’s getting a lot of attention,” Ferentz said. “And you know, that comes with being a good player. But I think he’s playing well.”
“Along with coming back your senior year, it also means you’re not sneaking up on anybody,” he said. “They’re sliding protections to him, they’ll chip him.”
Millen expects Clayborn to switch in the pros, from playing mostly on the right side to the left.
“To me, he looks like a left end,” Millen said. “On the left side he’d have to be a little stronger against the run, which he can do.
“And at the next level, he’s not going to get the protection slid to him. He’s not going to get chipped all the time. All that stuff will go away.”
For now, Clayborn needs to take advantage of the rare instances when he is matched up one-on-one.
“There are times when he has singles. He’s got to win those things,” Millen said. “He has, but not like you want him to.”
Honors: Iowa senior Ryan Donahue is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, honoring the nation’s top punter. Fellow senior Ricky Stanzi has been named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award honoring the nation’s top senior quarterback.
The Ray Guy Award winner will be announced Dec. 9, the Unitas winner on Dec. 10.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football