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Clayborn goes No. 20 overall to Tampa Bay in NFL Draft

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | APRIL 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Adrian Clayborn helped set a record at the NFL draft Thursday night.

The former Iowa defensive end was selected No. 20 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was the eighth of an NFL-record 12 defensive linemen selected in the first round.

That mark surpasses the old mark, 11, set in 2003.

Clayborn — the 18th first-round pick in Iowa history — was also the third of four Big Ten defensive ends selected. The Houston Texans selected ex-Wisconsin Badger J.J. Watt 11th overall, and the Washington Redskins picked Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan at No. 16. Cameron Heyward of Ohio State was selected 31st overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It was a long wait, but it was well worth it," Clayborn told ESPN's Suzy Kolber at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. "Tampa was where I wanted to be. I'm glad I got to them, and I'm glad they picked me. I can't wait to be a Buc."

Clayborn's stock had been discussed by numerous experts as "slipping" in recent weeks, largely because of teams' question about his Erb's palsy and its potential effect on his upper-body strength. Erb's palsy is a condition in which there is a loss of movement of the arm because of nerve damage during birth.

Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. didn't express any worries regarding that condition Thursday on ESPN's telecast, though.

"He played through it his whole career, it was never an issue," Kiper said. "He's dealt with it his whole life."

There was also some concern about the 6-4, 285-pounder's decrease in production between his junior and senior seasons. In 2009, Clayborn recorded 70 tackles, including 20 for loss. This past year, those numbers dipped to 52 and seven.

Buccaneer head coach Raheem Morris noted that Clayborn's tremendous junior year led to opposing offenses accounting more for his presence, leading to the dip in numbers.

"Because of the 11 sacks he got the year before, they were able to force protection to him, double team him with the [running] back, chop [block] him," Morris said during a news conference Thursday in Tampa Bay. "But you have to look at the disruption he caused."

Though Tampa Bay went 10-6 last season and narrowly missed the playoffs, there's a good chance Clayborn could start on its defensive line immediately.

"I think his best attribute is his versatility. His ability to play three downs for you. He's never going to be a 10-plus sack guy in the NFL, but six to eight sacks, and he can play the run well," Wes Bunting, the National Football Post's director of college scouting told The Daily Iowan. "I think he's NFL-ready."

ESPN analyst Jon Gruden — who won a Super Bowl as the Buccaneers' head coach in 2003 — had plenty of praise for the St. Louis native on the network's telecast Thursday.

"He's an excellent pass rusher. He has an arsenal of moves. He plays every down," Gruden said. "… For him to be here at No. 20, this is a tremendous pick for the Buccaneers."

This also marks the second-straight year a Hawkeye player has been drafted in the first round.

Offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga was drafted 23rd overall by the Green Bay Packers last season.

After establishing a school record with six players selected in the 2010 draft, Iowa has a chance to shatter that mark only a year later.

The draft will continue at 5 p.m. Friday live on ESPN with the second and third rounds. Hawkeyes who could hear their names called include defensive lineman Christian Ballard, quarterback Ricky Stanzi, and safety Tyler Sash.

Rounds four through seven will take place on Saturday.


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