Adrian Clayborn is getting a lot of publicity this offseason. The next Suh, a Heisman Hopeful, a first round draft pick, best player in the Big Ten, etc, etc... Often these kinds of things become hyperbolic and end up with the player not meeting the impossibly high expectations. With Clayborn, however, I think it'll be different and I think he may even exceed some of these wild expectations.

Clayborn's stat line last year was: 70 tackles, 20 TFL, 11.5 sacks. Those numbers are really good. By comparison, Tyson Alualu, the first DE and 10th overall taken in this year's draft, had 65 tackles, 11.5 TFL, and 7.5 sacks. So, Clayborn is good, but can be even better.

If you look at the chart, Clayborn's productivity gradually increased as the year went on. Early on in the year he looked tired at time and was still somewhat undisciplined, not staying in his lane. He had some big plays (like really BIG), but was otherwise quite. Midseason, something clicked.

In the first 6 games of the year he averaged 3.7 tackles, .75 TFL, and .5 sacks per game. In the final 7 games he averaged 6.9 tackles, 2.2 TFL, and 1.2 sacks per game. If Clayborn can keep up the production he established in the second half of the year for an entire 12 games he would finish with 82 tackles, 27 TFL, and 15 sacks...including a bowl game and we have 89 tackles, 29 TFL, and 16 sacks (which would be just absolutely ridiculous). Suh, for comparison, finished his senior season with 82 tackles, 24 TFL, and 12 sacks (more on Suh/Clayborn later).

It may not be realistic to assume Clayborn can keep up the same pace, but I think it's a definite possibility. Yes offense coordinators around the Big Ten will all be scheming to neutralize Clayborn (which can work...see the 2nd half of the Orange Bowl when Georgia Tech ran to the opposite side of the field for an entire half). However, by the end of the year in 2009 the word was out the Clayborn was a beast and teams should have been scheming against him already and that's when he played his best anyway. Plus, is it not reasonable to assume that Clayborn would have improved his game between his junior and senior years. Norm Parker thinks that that will be the case.
[Clayborn's] a year bigger, he's a year stronger, he's a year more mature. He should be a better player that he was last year.

Clayborn showed a drastic improvement between his sophomore and junior years. In 2009 he had 20 more tackles, 12 more TFL, and 9.5 more sacks than 2008. While a production jump that large is probably unlikely, a small increase in tackles is not out of the question.

Suh Clayborn
Tackles TFL Sacks Tackles TFL Sacks
Freshman 19 8 3.5 20 2.5 2
Sophomore 34 6 1 50 8 2
Junior 76 19 7.5 70 20 11.5
Senior 85 24 12 ? ? ?

For comparison, look at Suh's jump in production his final year. Clayborn and Suh had similar junior season, and it's safe to say Suh's senior year every team was prepared for him. But it didn't matter. He dominated just the same.

One last thing to leave you with...Clayborn played his best on the biggest stage. He had the blocked punt returned for a TD against Penn State, a career high 12 tackles against Ohio State, and a 9 solo tackle effort in the Orange Bowl. If he learns to treat every game like the Super Bowl, he could do some special things this year.