Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Big Ten rankings: Adrian Clayborn, No. 3
By ESPN.com staff
The Big Ten postseason player rankings, based on past performance and future potential, continue with ...
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa, Jr., 6-3, 282
Preseason rank: Unranked
Why he's here: Clayborn became the face of the Iowa program during a dramatic run to a second-place Big Ten finish and an Orange Bowl championship. His punt block and return for a touchdown in the rain against Penn State set the tone for the season, as Iowa rallied to upset the Nittany Lions and went on to the first 9-0 start in team history. In a league loaded with star pass rushers, Clayborn put himself among the elite by recording 20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, nine quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles.
He saved his best for last, leading a dominant defensive performance against Georgia Tech and claiming Orange Bowl MVP honors. Clayborn is big, fast and extremely physical, and he was a difference maker for Iowa on both defense and special teams.
Iowa lost two underclassmen (Bryan Bulaga and Amari Spievey) to the NFL draft, but the team got excellent news when Clayborn opted to return for 2010. He'll enter the fall as an All-America candidate and anchor one of the nation's top defensive lines. The first-team All-Big Ten selection certainly can improve his draft stock with another year in Iowa City. Most projected him in the second or third round this year, but teams would have a hard time passing up Clayborn if he puts together another year like 2009.