DA spoke with Iowa defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski about Clayborn:
DA: What is the book on Adrian?
RK: He’s a great kid, [got] a great mom, great family. He’s been an easy kid to coach. He flashed [his talent] when he was young. He was a great high school player, and all the qualities that we saw of him from high school carried on to this level. Hard working guy, good motor, very consistent, always looking to improve. Also a very humble guy, always trying to find ways to get better. I was fortunate to coach him the whole time he was here. You just knew he was going to be a good player. He just continued to improve. This year we don’t look at statistics, we asked him to do a lot of things, a lot of two-gap, protecting the linebackers, and obviously teams keyed on him. But he’s a very unselfish player. We just don’t line up and let our guys run up field and chase the quarterback. We expect our guys to play football, and he played within the scheme… and his senior year was his best year. He just constantly and consistently improved each week and each year.
DA: Is there a system or position Adrian might fit best in at the pro level?
RK: I think this guy is just the complete package. Some guys are strictly pass-rushers, other guys are run-stoppers, but this guy can do both. He’s a guy I don’t think you have to take off the field. He’s a first-, second-, and third-down player. He’s stout against the run and he can rush the quarterback on third down. A lot of the statistics were down this year because of what we asked him to do, not because of [him]. We put him in some tough situations because some of the youth behind him but this guy’s an all-around player. He’s a rare guy that can do both, stop the run and rush the passer. He’s got great qualities. On the next level I can see him being a right or left end but I don’t see him playing inside. We’re a 4-3 personnel team; I don’t know how 3-4 teams feel about him. But where ever this guy goes, and whatever system he plays in, he’s going to be a great football player.
DA: Do you anticipate a smooth transition from college to the pros?
RK: That’s part of his decision making to come back for a fifth year, to be more mentally ready and more physically ready. And his own mind to be ready to make that next move. He’s a mature kid, a smart kid, got his degree. This guy sees the big picture. He’s a very mature guy for his age. So the transition I think is going to be easy for Adrian especially having come back for his fifth year. He’s tough mentally and tough physically and he’s mature mentally and mature physically also.
DA: Just how high is the ceiling for Adrian Clayborn at the next level?
RK: I’d be shocked if this guy wasn’t a great pro. I think his best football is ahead of him. We kind of limited some of the things he could do based off our system, but he’s a very unselfish player, and just a great kid. He was voted by his peers as a two-time captain, as a junior and a senior. I can’t imagine him not being a great pro.
DA: Did Adrian seek any advice about making the leap?
RK: We put a lot of guys in the NFL, so we’re not afraid to talk about it. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time with Adrian, especially the last couple years when we knew he was going to be a high draft-pick type guy. And obviously with coach [Kirk] Ferentz’s NFL experience and then all the former players that come through here he has a lot of guys to lean on for advice. He’s a cerebral guy and a smart guy and he listens to people that have [been] through here and done that. That helps him make the good decisions that he makes. We talk about the NFL to these guys, that’s a selling point for Iowa, that’s how we get kids to come here, and hopefully we can keep putting guys in the NFL. And it’s something we’ve talked about [Adrian’s] entire career.