table of contents
- Foster May Be Bucs’ Best Draft Pick In 2011
- What The Bucs' Draft Could Have Been
- Bucs Building A Bigger, Tougher – And Hopefully Better – Defense
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: DE Clayborn
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: DE Bowers
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: LB Foster
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: TE Stocker
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: FS Black
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: RB Bradford
- Point-Counterpoint: Which Undrafted FA Should Tampa Bay Sign?
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: TE Hardy
- 2011 Draft Class Profile: CB Gaitor
After recording 70 tackles with 11.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and blocking a punt and returning it 53 yards for a touchdown against Penn State as a junior, Clayborn’s numbers dipped during his senior campaign. In 2010, Clayborn recorded 52 tackles with just 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
But what the statistics don’t reveal is the type of player Clayborn is. Simply put, he is a 6-foot-3, 287-pound brute who brings a nasty demeanor to Tampa Bay’s defense which has been missing since legendary defensive tackle Warren Sapp left after the 2003 season.
“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.”
That’s exactly what general manager Mark Dominik, head coach Raheem Morris and director of college scouting Dennis Hickey were looking for as they continue to rebuild Tampa Bay’s front seven from the undersized unit it has been over the past two years and one that has lacked a certain nastiness, to a bigger, tougher more physical unit that can beat up offensive lines, running backs and quarterbacks.
“It goes back to the mentality that we are trying to bring and continue to add and we feel like we have added that toughness, that physical nature,” Hickey said. “We want teams when they play us to have felt us – our powerful, physical, tough nature. We’ve added talent as well. It’s not just singular traits, but that mentality as we made these picks and added these guys, we wanted to continue to bring that mentality to our team.”
Clayborn’s nastiness is one of the primary reasons why he was selected over California defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round.
“His motor – he’s a relentless football player,” Dominik said of Clayborn. “He will go full [bore] on every play as long as he can and as hard as he can. You’ll see that. I’m looking forward to our fans seeing this guy play in pewter and red. He’s going to be a guy that attacks the football field and attacks the run. He has some very physical hits. He’s a good finisher. He has good change of direction. We’re very excited about him. He’s going to be a productive football player for us and I know he’s going to make us a better team up front. It all does start up front in terms of attacking the quarterback.”
Tampa Bay’s first-round pick this year is the antithesis of Simeon Rice, the Bucs’ former defensive end from 2001-06 who was sleek, athletic and built more like a gazelle than the rhino that Clayborn resembles. Clayborn isn’t flashy. He routinely charges right into opposing left tackles and tries to wear them down over the course of a game with his strong bull rushes as he currently lacks a lot of pass-rushing moves.
And that’s okay with Tampa Bay right now. Morris, who occupies the dual role of head coach and defensive coordinator, would rather have size and power over sleekness and speed in his front seven, which has been pushed around too much for his liking over the last two years.
“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 of Clayborn’s addition. “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.”
The Bucs didn’t stop adding size with Clayborn’s addition. In the second round, the Buccaneers selected Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who is 6-foot-3, 280 pounds. Both are expected to start and have bigger size than last year’s starting defensive ends Stylez G. White (6-foot-3, 270) and Tim Crowder (6-foot-4, 260) have.
In the third round, Tampa Bay added Washington linebacker Mason Foster, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds. He appears to be at least 10-15 pounds heavier than either last year’s starting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud or starting weakside linebacker Geno Hayes. Foster has the talent to start as a rookie and like Clayborn and Bowers, he is expected to bring a more physical presence to Morris’ defense.
“It’s just where we are as an organization,” Morris said. “We talk about getting bigger and we talk about being like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers with the homegrown football team that continually competes for championships. They do. They draft well. They draft big people. They grow up together and they win championships. Hopefully we can get them to do that.”
Over the past year, the size of Tampa Bay’s defense has grown with the additions of several players, notably linebacker Tyrone McKenzie (6-foot-2, 243), defensive ends Alex McGee (6-foot-3, 298) and Doug Worthington (6-foot-5, 292) and defensive tackles Al Woods (6-foot-3, 307) and Frank Okam (6-foot-5, 350). Clayborn, Bowers and Foster are just the latest examples of Tampa Bay’s new motto: size matters.
“We feel like we are putting together a big, tough, physical defense that is going to get after quarterbacks and get after running backs and that we are excited about building and putting together to get us where we want to go because we aren’t there yet,” Hickey said. “We feel like these guys are going to help us in that process.”