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Spotlight - WR Michael Clayton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jason Wood's mug

Jason Wood's Thoughts

Anquan Boldin spoiled us two seasons ago. His 1,377 yards as a rookie set a new NFL record (breaking Randy Moss' mark) and in the process, we've come to expect greatness out of rookie receivers despite history being much less yielding than that.

Thus, Michael Clayton's 1,193 yards last year as a rookie receiver in Tampa Bay was met with a collective yawn by most football fans. But we shouldn't sell his rookie success short. Did you realize:

  • Clayton's 1,193 yards is 4th ALL TIME among NFL rookie receivers
  • His 80 receptions is 3rd ALL TIME among rookies
  • His 164 fantasy points (using FBG scoring) was 8th ALL TIME among rookie WRs
In other words, Clayton had a historical showing as a rookie and was unquestionably the Bucs most polished offensive weapon. With Brian Griese now set as the starting QB (he didn't get the first team reps in training camp last year), an infusion of new blood on the offensive line, and the acquisition of Carnell "Cadillac" Williams to add balance offensively, there's little reason to expect anything short of a top 10 season from Clayton.


  • Clayton is the unquestioned WR1 on an offense that is sure to be among the league leaders in passing attempts (thanks to HC Jon Gruden)
  • He put together one of the best rookie seasons in league history, and should be that much better with a year under his belt learning the nuances of the complex West Coast offense
  • QB Brian Griese and Clayton had an entire offseason and full training camp to work on their chemistry, something they didn't enjoy a season ago


  • Clayton can get better using his size (6'4", 200 lbs) against defensive backs, particularly in the red zone
  • The Bucs offensive line is allegedly among the league's worst, which could spell trouble for the team's offensive cohesion
  • With the addition of Carnell Williams, it's possible the Bucs could run more and throw less this year, potentially signaling fewer targets for Clayton

Final Thoughts

One of the great things about Clayton is that he's being selected, on average, 16th among WRs according to Antsports, going in the 4th or 5th round of 12-team leagues. Yet, as a ROOKIE, he finished as the 13th ranked receiver. Aside from the natural progression we see from receivers, Clayton also benefits from more continuity on offense this year and a bolstered supporting cast. Don't hesitate to draft Clayton as a decent WR1 or one of the very best WR2 options in your draft. He should be good for 1200 yards and 7-9 TDs, and would be even more valuable in leagues that reward a point per reception. Draft accordingly.

Chris Smith's mug

Chris Smith's Thoughts

Michael Clayton exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 2004 surprising football fans with his maturity on the football field. Nobody expected him to have such a great rookie season but he exhibited a real knack for getting open and making the catch once he was. He has a great blend of size, speed and strong route-running and he was able to consistently put up numbers throughout the season. He ended with 80 receptions for 1,193 yards and scored 7 times and finished as the 13th best receiver in terms of fantasy production

Now a year later, the question is, 'can Clayton put up numbers similar to a year ago?'. The answer my friends is a resounding yes.

Reasons to believe Michael Clayton will duplicate his success in 2005

  • Good chemistry between himself and quarterback Brian Griese. Last year, Griese hooked up with Clayton 59 times in eleven games for 867 yards and 5 touchdowns. He failed to catch four passes in only one of Griese's starts and had only one start that would be termed a complete fantasy bust (He caught only one pass against Atlanta in week thirteen)
  • A drive to make himself better. Not content to rest on his laurels, Clayton has worked hard this offseason to make himself a better player. (blurb from the News Blogger on June 15th) June 15, 2005, 12:17 Buccaneers :: WR WR Clayton Making Good Use Of Down Time Roy Cummings, - [Full Article] Surgery to repair some minor knee damage has forced WR Michael Clayton to spend most of the offseason working in the film room. He's making good use of the time. In an effort to be more familiar with the defensive schemes he'll face during the season, Clayton has been studying game film of the team's 2005 opponents. Clayton is hoping the film study will help him put together a repeat of his highly successful rookie season.
      A great blend of size, quickness and body control


    • Clayton has great size and quickness
    • He has the trust of quarterback Brian Griese
    • Having a better group of receivers around him (Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway) should enable him to find more room to get open this season
    • Clayton has soft hands and rarely drops a pass
    • Clayton has worked hard in the film room this season to improve on the mental aspect of the game.
    • Has both intensity and drive to be the best in the game.


    • The offensive line appears to be in disarray and Griese may find himself running for his life at times instead of throwing the ball
    • Michael Clayton spent the offseason resting his knee after surgery on a minor knee problem.
    • The Buccaneers will likely try to run more this season to use the talents of rookie running back Cadillac Williams.
    • While having a better receiving core around him should ultimately help him find space in the secondary, it could result in fewer receptions as the ball gets spread around the field.

    Final Thoughts

    What's not to like about Michael Clayton this year? He has been breaking down field to make him a smarter player on the field and his drive to be a great receiver fuels his work ethic and training. His knee surgery was for a minor ailment and it shouldn't affect him going forward. You can expect similar numbers to a year ago and he could exceed the touchdown total.

    Quotations from the Message Board Thread

    To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

    When you hear Coach Gruden talk about the Tampa Bay offense, you donít have to wait long to hear him talk about second year wide receiver Michael Clayton. Clayton caught 80 balls for 1,193 yards and seven TDs his rookie season. With an excellent new running back on the team to keep defenses honest, Clayton will build on his rookie season and easily post top ten wide receivers numbers in 2005.

    Frenchy Fuqua:
    What's not to like about Michael Clayton? Great talent, great attitude, great system. This guy reminds me of Herman Moore in his prime. Clayton should be a top 10 FF WR for many years to come...

    Ministry of Pain:
    Yes Clayton is a 2nd year player but he is in a pass friendly offense. He is years ahead of his age as a WR. He had over 500+ yards after the catch last season...he can take a shot but he also can run through a tackle. He has great hands...something that DJax lacks who is being drafted around him. He has some speed lining up opposite him in Joey Galloway yet Galloway will not take catches away from Clayton.

    Michael Clayton Projections

    Jason Wood009012759
    Chris Smith007510909
    Message Board Consensus008412079

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