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Clayton doesn't blow anyone away with flashy statistics or eye-popping strength or athleticism, but his high motor and underrated quickness endear him to NFL scouts, possibly leading to a late-round selection.
Heading into his senior year, Clayton had a grand total of one start and managed only 15 tackles between his freshman and junior seasons, partially because he missed seven games in 2009 with an injury. As a sophomore, however, more playing time allowed him to be a consistent performer despite having only that one start (22 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks). As a senior, he again played a prominent role in Auburn's rotation, making a career-high 28 stops, eight for loss and one sack.
Clayton surprised scouts with a nice pro day, putting up a 4.85 40 and completing the other tests with numbers comparable to the best of those at the combine while weighing 299 pounds. That sort of foot quickness and agility will make Clayton a tough cut as a wave interior reserve and special teams contributor.
Positives: Hustle interior lineman who has quickness off the snap. Always going forward in pass rush mode whether pressing gap or getting under the pads of the center to bull him into the backfield. Works to either sideline, as well as downfield to track down ballcarriers. Gets low in short-yardage situations, maintains line of scrimmage.
Negatives: Average bulk and strength for the position, better centers will control or turn him off the snap. Best fit in one-gap system where quickness is a plus. Small hands and short arms will make life difficult for him at the next level. Doesn't make a lot of plays, makes most tackles in the backfield when slanting into the play or grabbing ballcarriers.
Played in 10 of 13 games … Saw first collegiate game action against Mississippi State … Registered first career tackles vs. New Mexico State, compiling three total, all assisted … Also had a TFL (.5) for minus two yards vs. NMSU … Had two tackles vs. Vanderbilt … Recorded three tackles, all solo, against Tennessee Tech.
Redshirted ... SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.
2009: Missed seven games due to injury.
Selected to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 6A All-State team ... Finished his senior season with 46 tackles, six sacks and five pass breakups ... Named the Opelika-Auburn News' 2005 Defensive Player of the Year ... Helped lead Opelika to the Class 6A state semifinals his senior year ... Also a track and field standout ... Won the 2005 Alabama Class 6A state discus and shot put championships ... Holds the Class 6A AHSAA state meet discus record.
Born Jan. 1, 1988 ... Son of Auburn assistant track and field coach Jerry Clayton and Becky Clayton ... Majoring in pre-business.
Draft Scout Player News
01/03/13 - DT Zach Clayton was signed to a contract for 2013 by the Titans.