Morris Claiborne will never be worth the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. He will never be worth what the Cowboys essentially gave up to select him - the Chicago Bears took receiver Alshon Jeffery and the St. Louis Rams selected defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the picks the Cowboys traded to acquire him.
Admittedly, just typing that sentence physically hurts. Alshon Jeffery as a Cowboy. Michael Brockers as a Cowboy. Of course, the Cowboys likely would have selected another tight end in those respective draft spots, so this is not a total loss.
Mo’ is not the next Prime Time, but he has become a decent NFL caliber cornerback. Claiborne is not a total bust. He is a legit NFL starter. He is also worth the Cowboys’ keeping in the offseason.
Considering where he was before the start of the season, call this development a major accomplishment. Be happy for this man. He’s a good guy. He cares. He tries.
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“I just go out play loose. I worked so hard to be where I am at,” he said. “I thank God he has me in this position I am in.”
This time last year, Claiborne had been demoted in favor of Anybody But Morris Claiborne. He left the team offices in a huff, and then shortly thereafter he suffered a season-ending ruptured patellar tendon.
The Cowboys drafted Byron Jones in the first round. They gave Orlando Scandrick a raise. All signs pointed to a Mo’ release. Mo’ was decent in camp. Scandrick suffered a season-ending torn ACL, and Mo regained the starting job. He has played well enough to keep it.
I asked him if he ever thought that maybe his career was just not going to work out with the Cowboys; that if he needed to be on another team.
“I never thought that. I’ve been down before,” he said. “I just tried to put everything behind me. Focus on football. Everything happens for a reason and God put you through tests and it’s up to you to see what you do with those tests. I feel like I made it through it.”
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Claiborne ranks as the 149th best cornerback in the NFL this season. BTW - teammate Brandon Carr ranks 109th. Don’t buy either as gospel.
The Cowboys don’t play much zone, which prevents the corners from facing the play. Their backs are often turned, which don’t allow for many interceptions.
This does not get Mo’ or Carr off the hook in that category - neither has a pick this season. Claiborne had one in Week 3 inside the redzone against Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons, but dropped it.
“The thing you like about him is his spirit. He’s really fight hard and competing hard. He competes in practice. He competes in the game. He’s not perfect. None of us are. But he’s certainly playing the right way,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. “The biggest thing Mo’ had to deal with early on is he had a lot of different injuries.
“When you’re a young player, playing that position, you need to play, time on task. And you’re going to get beat by these guys. The receivers are really, really good in this league. The quarterbacks are really good. Just playing and playing through all that stuff is critical for your development. He’s been healthy. He’s working hard every day. I think he is playing well for us.”
In the offseason, the Cowboys declined to pick up the fifth-year on his contract meaning he will be a free agent after the season. He is worth keeping, provided no one thinks he will ever develop into Champ Bailey. Mo is not a bust, he is not a All Pro, but he is a pro worth keeping.