Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn brings a nasty, violent style of play to Tampa Bay. Clayborn has the physical presence that Bucs head coach Raheem Morris is looking for along the team's defensive line.
When Raheem Morris became the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009, he and general manager Mark Dominik wanted to create a physical, violent football team.
The terms “physical” and “violent” perfectly describe new Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who was selected with the team’s first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Despite a mild-mannered presence off the field, when Clayborn, who will wear number 94 in Tampa Bay, steps on the field, the dreadlocked, 6-foot-3, 287-pound Iowa product flips the switch and becomes a punishing defender against the run and the pass.
“Once you step on the field and put those pads on it’s a whole different game,” Clayborn said. “You have a 330-pound lineman coming to kick your [butt], so you have to get after them. I like kicking people’s [butt]. That’s what I do.
“That’s how I play. I like to play aggressive, with passion, and I just like to get after people.”
Clayborn has proven at Iowa that he can not only get to the quarterback, but that he can be a stout run defender and has some balance to his game.
“I think I am,” Clayborn said. “I consider myself a football player not just a pass rush guy. I like both sides of the game. I think run is more fun than pass. I like kicking an offensive lineman’s [butt]. That’s fun to me.”
One word that could not be used to describe Clayborn is finesse.
“That’s not me,” Clayborn said. “Yeah, I like to be physical. I’m going have to switch it up a little bit and kind of add some finesse to this game. But any time I’m going to get the bull rush on, I’m going do it, so it’s all good.”
Morris loves Clayborn’s nasty demeanor and believes he will fit in nicely with the young group of talented defensive linemen the Bucs have spent the last two years collecting, including the likes of second-year defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, who were selected in the first- and second rounds of the 2010 draft.
“Obviously, we are fired up to bring another young, aggressive physical style of player for what we’re building here in Tampa, a lasting contender, building block ingredient,” Morris said. “We’re really fired up about seeing these last two young men [and the player] I’m introducing this day playing together for a long time along with the other guys that we had in that room – Brian Price and Michael Bennett, some of the other names that you guys are going to get to know well. These guys are brought here for a reason. They’re brought here to be physical presences for us and be physical for our team and be great kids in our community.”
Clayborn was the face of the Hawkeyes defense for his last two years, and he is ready to join the likes of McCoy and quarterback Josh Freeman in becoming one of the faces of the Buccaneers franchise. He is ready to take on the high expectations that naturally come with being a first-round pick.
“I don’t mind it at all – it’s football,” Clayborn said. “At this level there are going to be a lot of them and I’m willing to step up for the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to being that guy. I’m looking forward to stepping in at that right end or left end and just getting after the quarterback. With the help of the coaches I can do that. It feels good to come into a young team that’s going to grow and I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m excited to get started. Let’s get this lockout over with.”
One of the reasons Clayborn is excited is because he is going to a young team in Tampa Bay on the rise coming off a 10-win season.
“It’s good to step into a good situation and have a group of solid guys that’s already there,” Clayborn said.
Clayborn is not just solid. He's physical and violent and ready to kick some butt.– Bob LeVine contributed to this story
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