IRVING, Texas (AP) — LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne was considered by most as the best defensive back available in the NFL draft.
The Dallas Cowboys, in desperate need of defensive playmakers, couldn't pass on the All-American.
Dallas selected Claiborne with the sixth overall pick Thursday night, moving up eight spots in the first round after a trade with St. Louis. The Rams got the No. 14 pick as well and the Cowboys' second-round selection, 45th overall.
Claiborne led the Tigers with six interceptions last season and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. He was also LSU's top kickoff returner, averaging 25 yards per return including a 99-yard touchdown at West Virginia.
It was anticipated that the Cowboys would get defensive in the early rounds of the draft, looking to add impact players for coordinator Rob Ryan.
The Cowboys were also active in free agency last month, signing cornerback Brandon Carr to a $50 million, five-year deal that includes $26.5 million guaranteed. Among other free agents they signed were safety Brodney Pool and linebacker Dan Connor.
Now they have used their highest draft pick since 2003, when cornerback Terence Newman was picked fifth overall, on another top cornerback.
Newman, a starter all nine of his seasons in Dallas, was released by the Cowboys when free agency started and has since signed with Cincinnati. Newman was a two-time Pro Bowl pick and started 131 of his 133 games for Dallas.
For Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, it was the 59th draft-day trade since he bought the team in 1989. It was the 18th time one of those trades involved his first-round pick.
The No. 6 pick Dallas got from St. Louis was one of the picks the Rams got from Washington, which moved up to second overall to get Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
Last April, in what was an unusual year with the NFL lockout, it was an unusual draft for the Cowboys and Jones. Dallas used only two of its eight picks on defenders in 2011. And for only the second time under Jones' ownership, the Cowboys didn't make any trades during the draft.
The Cowboys still had six more picks in this year's draft, including two fourth-round picks.
Earlier Thursday, the Cowboys signed offensive tackle Jermey Parnell to a three-year contract. He appeared in six games last season.