Commentary

Kiper: Stock Watch

Adrian Clayborn started slowly but regained form; a look at LaMichael James' stock

Updated: October 5, 2010, 6:13 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesAdrian Clayborn has had to regain his form, but LaMichael James has been consistently unstoppable.

One of the most disruptive defensive ends in the country last season, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn had 20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. The 6-foot-3, 284-pounder came into the 2010 campaign rated as the top senior pro prospect at the position on my Big Board. At his best last season, Clayborn combined very good explosiveness with excellent use of leverage. He was around the football a great deal. He closed quickly and was a ferocious tackler. But that was last year.

Through the first four games of this season, Clayborn was not nearly the same player. He produced just 1.5 tackles for loss and no sacks. And it wasn't just because offensive coordinators were scheming to neutralize his charge. Once he began to dominate in '09, they were doing the same thing, yet he still found ways to make plays. In the Hawkeyes' win over Penn State, Clayborn reverted to old form. He did a good job with ball location (identifying where the ball and play are headed) while making his presence felt against the run and pass throughout all sixty minutes of action. The end result saw him finish with a game-high 10 tackles and three tackles for loss, one of which was a sack. For Clayborn to secure a high first-round grade, he must perform at that type of level on a much more consistent basis than we've seen in the first half of this season.


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst