LSU Cornerback Morris Claiborne received a higher grade from Cowboys scouts than any defensive back since Deion Sanders (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images).
Monday, May 14 at 4:57 PM
The silver and blue fanbase got an unexpected surprise in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, where Trader Jerry emerged from his hermit hole for his yearly draft tinkering. This year, instead of moving down as they have in past years, the Cowboys dealt up with St. Louis to select the consensus best cornerback -- Morris Claiborne from LSU. Cowboy fans must have been elated, finally happy that their traditionally incompetent drafter had finally gotten a pick right after so much failure.
If you stop thinking about it there, you're correct. However, that's not exactly accurate when you pry beneath the surface.
Morris Claiborne projects as an elite NFL cornerback, and I'm not here to dispute the player selection. I'm here to say that this pick is not all roses and fine wine, it's actually nothing more than a cover up for years upon years of poor drafting. Claiborne is not the result of some brilliant masterstroke from Cowboys brass, it's a desperation move for a team who has produced bust after bust, scouting wise.
Looking solely at cornerback, the Cowboys' picks in the last five years coming into this year's draft are as follows: Alan Ball(2007), Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick(2008), DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens(2009), Jamar Wall(2010), and Josh Thomas(2011). Considering Scandrick is being replaced as a starter by free agent Brandon Carr and Jenkins is about to be bumped by the newest Cowboys draft pick, saying the Cowboys have recently drafted successful DBs is a silly stance.
Also, let's consider this: Claiborne is a fine player, but does flaws that could provide some problems in the NFC East. Claiborne is said to struggle with smaller, quicker receivers. The Philadelphia Eagles have not one but two of those leading their side (DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin). Theat scouting report favors them.
He's also believed to "get caught off balance" with receivers who don't mind getting physical with him. So if that's to be believed, Claiborne doesn't handle speedy receivers well and can be over-matched by those who want to mix it up. He's also not the best at stopping the run, which could be another issue for Dallas as they still have problems to solve on their defensive line.
This also wasn't a cheap move for the Cowboys in the way of draft picks. They did move up in the first round, so they advanced in that sense. That said, they dealt the Rams their second round selection -- which means Dallas will likely be napping during most of the Draft's second day.They will not pick again until the 81st overall selection, round three.
That is 75 picks, and 75 players that Dallas won't even get the chance to touch. When you have the needs the Cowboys do, you're not in a position to pass up opportunities to stockpile good players which are in good supply in the second and early third rounds.
It's great to be able to draft a guy like Morris Claiborne, despite his possible flaws and score of 4 on the Wonderlic test (of varying importance depending on who's talking). But realize that Dallas did not draft him because of what he is. They drafted him because of what Jenkins, Scandrick, and all the other whiffs the Cowboys have drafted over the last nine years or so aren't: effective at doing their job.
It's almost ironic in a way, because if Trader Jerry himself wasn't as incompetent at his job, this wouldn't even be an issue to discuss. Remember that, Dallas: Morris Claiborne being a potential All Pro is not what brought him into the fold. The horrible ineptitude on the field, and in the war room, is what did the trick.