We are now 99 days away from the Atlanta Falcons’ 2015 season opener against the New York Giants. We begin our countdown looking at No. 99, Adrian Clayborn.
Dan Quinn is on a mission to turn around the fortunes of the Atlanta Falcons’ defense. After ranking dead last in total defense as well as against the pass, Quinn needed to make the right offseason acquisitions.
One of those was defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Clayborn had an excellent rookie season in Tampa Bay, recording 42 tackles and 7.5 sacks. There were questions over his run stopping, but he made his biggest mark rushing the passer, earning a plus-13.6 grade in pass rushing by Pro Football Focus.
Since then, however, Clayborn has battled with a number of injuries. In the past three years, he has missed 28 games. He will be hoping to get his career back on track and that starts by staying healthy.
Sep 7, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; A detailed view of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn (94) dreadlocks during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina defeated Tampa 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
“I’ve been injured quite a bit in my career and I know that I have to prove myself,” Clayborn said. “So I’m fine with the one-year deal. That played a part in me coming to this system. I think it’s going to give me the best chance to prove myself and prove the skills that I have.”
His 2014 season was cut short after just one game due to a biceps injury suffered in the Buccaneers’ season opener — he had made one sack in the game.
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He is reunited with Raheem Morris and Bryan Cox in Atlanta. Morris was his head coach during his rookie campaign in 2011, and Cox was his defensive front seven coach for two years.
“Coach Cox, we had a good relationship when he was in Tampa. His coaching is very different than from anybody I’ve ever had,” Clayborn said.
“I’m just excited to be reunited with him and Raheem. Raheem believed in me from the start, so that just gives me a lot more confidence in my situation there.”
For a team in desperate need of an improved pass rush, the Falcons could have an answer in Clayborn. If he can stay healthy, he has the ability to get to the quarterback. During his rookie year, he hurried the quarterback 32 times.
Clayborn could play a big role in the rebuilding pass defense, as long as he stays on the field. If he plays all 16 games, it will be a real benefit to the Atlanta defense.