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May 12, 2011 @ 12:02 pm
Current Rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

2011 Post-Draft Issue

Bucs Building A Bigger, Tougher – And Hopefully Better – Defense

WRITTEN_BY Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Scott Reynolds


Size does matter in Tampa Bay as the Bucs have shown a recent interest in acquiring bigger, more physical players over the past year. The first three selections in the 2011 draft were no exception to that goal.

A quick look at Adrian Clayborn’s senior statistics at Iowa and on the surface there may not be much to get excited about.

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.”
Last modified on Sunday, 15 May 2011 12:39

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Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

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  • avatar

    If Clayborn could have just squeezed a little tighter on that stage, at least the bull would have ended--even if the lockout hasn't.
  • avatar

    Well if bigger is better, Mason was brought in to replace Hayes our smallest backer. Add his run in last year, and it's time to say good bye to Geno.
  • avatar

    I'm betting Clayborn is 270lbs with a shaved head by week one. Florida is hot yo!
  • avatar

    The defense certainly seemed to get pushed around a lot since the Superbowl team. We needed some "tude" and it looks like these are the types of players to rekindle that fire.
  • avatar

    I like getting bigger, faster, nastier, and all the other beastly adjectives that describe a winner. The adjective that I'm becoming concerning with is younger. We are already the youngest team in the Nfl and we just got even younger with 8 new draftees. In next years draft, we wil be replacing on average 24 year olds with 21 year olds. At some point, experience is an adjective that must be added to the ones above if we're going to win the big games.
  • avatar

    Good article Scott. This just fires us fans up even more. I'm excited about this season because the defense will be much tougher and stronger. I really like Morris and Dominick attitude: "next man up". I believe we are reaching a manpower point with this team that we don't have to put up with character issue players anymore. This is becoming a real team effort team. I hope that the Glazers will sign Morris to a long term contract and also hire another Defensive Coordinator after this season. Morris is very good drum beater and continues to be creative. that's a good coach in the making. We're moving back to Tampa soon and you can bet I will be purchasing Buc tickets again. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Horse, what would be the purpose of replacing Morris as defensive coordinator?
  • avatar

    drt1066, so he doesn't have to wear two hats at once. Holding two positions will eventually cause problems. Belcheck and Parcels did it for awhile then gave up the Defensive part of it. There's too much to do as a Head Coach unless Owners want to mingle like Jerry Jones. Gruden was a head coach and offensive coordinator and it eventually did him in.
  • avatar

    Drt1066- agree, what would be the purpose so we can get a guy in here the players can't realte to like Jim Bates
  • avatar

    jongruden, so how did it work out for Jon Gruden after he won the superbowl in his first year? How did all those offensive players he chose do wearing both hats? Head Coach should be Head Coach only. I believe there are plenty of "lessons learned" in the NFL past history about this subject.
  • avatar

    Oh I don't know he won the divison two more times and when he went 9-7 he was fired, so I guess if we had a D-Coordinator last year we would have been awesome, yeah right! Morris was born to coach the defense, he is getting the most out of a below average defense.
  • avatar

    Yeah, and he left the team in disaray; that's why no owner has signed him as their head coach. When he was fired the tank was almost on empty for the caliber of players we had left. All we had was a bunch of over the hill guys.
  • avatar

    It is good to see the Bucs getting Big Players. Clear the Roster of undersize players. Maybe it would help if PR stops recommending 5'6'' Running Backs and other dwarf size players. Also stop talking about Warrick Dunn. You all know Dominik and Morris are looking for Big, Mean, football players so go find some to recommend. Go Bucs!!!!!
  • avatar

    To many time last year teams just pushed the Bucs downfield. The first game against Atlanta. It wasn't until late in the second qtr until slants had to punt.
  • avatar

    I do not care how great a football player is, if he is a cancer or a detriment to the team. If they are not mature enough or strong enough to make the right decisions in Life then let them go. There are plenty of other players that would like the chance to be productive players that provide a good role model for the community. Unfortunately it is very seldom that a player that has off the field issues is successful in reformulating his life to cross over from the dark side to success on the good side. Just my opinion.
  • avatar

    We could put a 1000 lb guy in the middle of the DLine, he wouldn't have to do anything, but they'd have to run around his fat *censored*!
  • avatar

    Everyone has to looked at what Tampa Bay is trying to Create a Bigger and Stronger Defensive Line. I know that some of the fans don't like his small problem that he has had all his life, You must realized like I mention in other articles Clayborn may be one of the best Dl since the great Lee Roy (Hall of Fame) Selmon. I had a chance why I was inbetween Military assignments at the old mall at present location Buc One place is now at the old Sears store. He was very Humble and He appreciate talking to the fans. Clayborn I believe is another LRS Mold. And Bowers from Clemson, Can You Imagine HE MAY BE BETTER THAN CLAYBORN and all the rest of the class of Defensive Linemen to come out in this year draft. Tampa may have passed on him at number 20. But 30 other teams didnot select him TAMPA BAY IN ROUND 2. I BELIEVE IF BOWERS WAS NOT THERE THEN Tampa Bay would have selected Houston from Georgia or a OT at that selection. But that is under the bridge. I hope when the NFL gets back to business and TB goes after some of the 250 players that have not been picked up. I hope Tampa Bay would Invite an OT,OG and OC and couple of WR and Corners and safety's. But each of the NFL Teams have a plan, and Tampa Bay has a plan too. AGAIN I BELIEVE THAT NO AND ATL WAS REACHING, AND THIS YEAR IT WILL SHOW. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT TAMPA BAY AND ALL THER PLAYERS THAT WERE HURT AND THEY COME BACK FIT AS EVER. Tampa Bay could make a run at going back to the Playoffs from Game One. GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Talent wise, I feel we are better. Playing a tougher schedule this year, I wonder how much of an improvement we will see on the field and with W/L record.
  • avatar

    It is too bad that some of the players I really liked were gone by the time the Bucs drafted or were passed over by the Bucs. Maybe some of these players will be released by the teams that drafted them. Like Akeem Dent, Nate Irving or Greg Jones at LB. Greg Romeus, Jeremy Beal or Cliff Matthews at DL. Jacquizz Rodgers, Dion Lewis or Jordan Todman at RB. Sometmes teams will try to sneak players through by waiving them. Dominik has shown the ability to steal some of these players. Lets hope he can do it again this year Like Blount last year,
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