Ever since the departure Chandler Jones, the New England Patriots have been searching for a consistent pass rusher for the defensive line. Earlier this offseason, the Patriots signed Adrian Clayborn to pair alongside Trey Flowers on the defensive front. The Patriots struggled when rushing the passer last season. The signing of Adrian Clayborn is expected to increase the productivity of the defensive line and improve the defense overall.
New England Patriots X-Factors: Adrian Clayborn
Clayborn’s Time in the NFC South
Adrian Clayborn was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The University of Iowa product had trouble staying healthy during his four seasons in Tampa Bay. He played in three games or less during two of those seasons with the Buccaneers. During his other two seasons with Tampa Bay, Clayborn racked up five and a half sacks and seven and a half sacks respectively.
Clayborn signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. While with the Falcons, Clayborn primarily came off of the bench in a reserve role. Clayborn started only 13 out of the 45 games he played in. He recorded 17.0 sacks during his three seasons in Atlanta. This includes his nine and a half sack season in 2017.
Can Clayborn Stay Healthy?
As a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Atlanta Falcon, Adrian Clayborn was bitten by the injury bug. With the Buccaneers, Clayborn missed 13 games in 2012 and 15 in the 2013 season. His inability to stay on the field ended his tenure with the Buccaneers. Clayborn missed three games in the 2016 regular season and ended up missing the Falcons 28-3 blown lead in their Super Bowl LI loss to the Patriots.
Clayborn’s inability to stay healthy has caused him to lose his job in other places, and miss out of playing in a Super Bowl. If Clayborn wants to be a contributor, he must stay healthy. If he gets hurt early in the season, he could be victim to falling down the depth chart and losing any playing time he may earn.
Can He Be a Consistent Contributor?
Adrian Clayborn recorded nine and a half sacks last season in Atlanta. This statistic is misleading due to his six-sack performance against the Dallas Cowboys. This performance also accounts for one-fifth of his career sack total of 30. Clayborn will one week have a big game and then go silent the next week. His streaky performances bring up the question of can Clayborn be a consistent producer?
Bill Belichick has cut, benched, or traded guys who can’t consistently perform and contribute to the team. If Clayborn can’t produce on a weekly basis, his time in New England may not go well. But if he can reverse this trend Clayborn could be instore for a huge 2018 season.
Last Word on Adrian Clayborn
Adrian Clayborn was brought to New England to bolster the Patriots pass rushing corps. Clayborn has dealt with injury and consistency issues during his career. Clayborn has shown flashes of greatness with the Buccaneers and Falcons. If Adrian Clayborn can finally cash in on his first-round draft pick potential, he could finally make himself into the Pro Bowler he has the potential to be. The Patriots could finally have a dominant pass rush and another steal in Adrian Clayborn.
Embed from Getty Images