The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought Adrian Clayborn in a couple weeks ago to tour their facilities, and there was something during that visit that sparked strong mutual feelings.
Clayborn said he wanted to play for the Buccaneers, and perhaps he had such a good feeling about Tampa Bay that the gray suit and light red tie he wore Thursday night matched the franchise colors.
The Buccaneers used the 20th pick in the NFL draft to take the Iowa defensive end, making Clayborn the school’s first defensive lineman to get selected in the first round since Detroit took Alex Karras with the No. 10 choice in 1958.
“It was a long wait, but it was well worth it,” Clayborn said during ESPN’s telecast from Radio City Music Hall in New York. “Tampa is where I wanted to be, and I’m glad I got to them, and I’m glad they picked me. I can’t wait to be a Buc.”
The Buccaneers were one of the likely landing spots for Clayborn on mock drafts. Tampa Bay used its first two picks in 2010 on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, but defensive end was a need position and Clayborn was a player the Buccaneers targeted.
“I’m always anxious, especially when it’s a guy you really, really love,” Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris said. “(He) was one of the guys we had highly touted on our board, and at the time, our highest-touted guy on the board. When he came in here a couple weeks ago, (general manager Mark Dominik and I) looked at each other and we both knew that was the guy.”
Clayborn was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior and senior for the Hawkeyes. He piled up 20 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 2009, capping his junior season with an MVP performance in the Orange Bowl.
“He’s going to bring competitive toughness to that room, (as the) physical beast that he can be and that he’s going to be for us on the football field,” Morris said. “That’s what we want, and that’s why we went out and got him.”
Clayborn’s production slipped in 2010 to 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks when he was a focal point of Iowa’s defense.
“The productivity was down, but he was a marked man,” ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper said. “He started 30 consecutive games at Iowa. You talk about durability and being out there play after play, down after down.”
Morris said opponents devoted more attention to Clayborn during his senior season, sliding protection his way and using backs to chip him.
“But you’ve got to look at the disruption he caused and the things he was able to do and … the close-but-no-cigar reel,” he said. “You love it and you’re entertained by it and it makes you want to go out there and get a player like this on your football team in order to make him improve the rest of your defense as well.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football