It's quite confounding that Clayborn could be first-round pick

Adrian Clayborn treats the subject as barely an inconvenience in an otherwise stellar athletic career to date.

But when you hear about what he has overcome, it seems nothing short of amazing that Clayborn is on the verge of becoming a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The defensive end from Iowa was born with Erb's palsy, a condition that caused sporadic paralysis in his upper right arm and nearly kept him out of contact sports.

Clayborn credits dedicated weight lifting, through high school in St. Louis and while he was a member of the Hawkeyes, for helping him to successfully deal with any lingering effects of the disease. He has managed to build and maintain equal strength in his shoulders, paving the way for him to go onto become the 2005 Missouri High School Player of the Year as a tight end and linebacker, and then establish himself as a highly durable and dynamic playmaking defensive end at Iowa.

The 6-foot-3, 281-pound Clayborn ended his collegiate career with 30 consecutive starts. He also was credited with 192 total tackles, including 37½ for loss and 19 sacks, allowing him to put together a remarkable comeback story while comparing favorably with other ends in a draft loaded with defensive line talent.

"It's been tough, but I think I reached a point where (the right shoulder) is pretty even with my left shoulder, so everything's pretty much back to normal now," Clayborn told me during a recent interview on Sirius NFL Radio. "I consider myself up there with (the several other highly touted defensive linemen in the draft). My film shows it, my talent shows it."

He might not be quite as tall as some of the other defensive-end prospects, but Clayborn has impressed scouts with his tenaciousness and versatility. Because he tends to play a little lower center of gravity, he tends to get better leverage against taller offensive tackles and, therefore, be more of factor against the run. Clayborn has played in a 4-3 defense since high school, and although that is his scheme of choice, he is prepared to adjust to a 3-4 if necessary.

"It's just what scheme I fit best with," he said. "I've been talking with a lot of 4-3 teams, obviously, playing left or right end. But I just want to go to the perfect team that wants me for my talents and my skill set, whether it's pick No. 2 or pick No. 32 doesn't matter to me. If that teams believes in me, that's where I belong."

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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