After trading up eight spots in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, many were thrilled with the selection of Morris Claiborne. At that time, Claiborne was viewed as the best defensive prospect in the draft class. At LSU, Claiborne was two-sport athlete. He was the Jim Thorpe winner in 2012 and he was the second fastest runner in the nation in the 100 meters event.
Coming into the league, many viewed Claiborne to be the next Darrelle Revis. In his rookie season, Claiborne was held out of training camp because of hamstring injuries. In his first NFL game against the rival New York Giants, a game in which I attended, Claiborne looked unbelievable against Hakeem Nicks. On six targets, Claiborne only gave up four receptions for 38 yards to Nicks. This was no fluke because Nicks was coming off season in which he caught about 75 passes for just under 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns. After a decent first half of his season, Claiborne’s production fell off.
Claiborne struggled to stay healthy in the 2013 season too. He lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick, and he looked inept to cover in the slot too. At 5’11”, 190 pounds, many thought he would excel in the slot. The combination of Brandon Carr and Claiborne was pretty good in 2012, but both didn’t exceed expectations in 2013. After regressing from his rookie season, his long-term future in Dallas is in danger if he does not pan out.
Rod Marinelli is a great defensive coach, but his expertise is with the defensive line. Jerome Henderson has been and will be the guy for years to come in Dallas. Claiborne is still extremely raw, but the Dallas Cowboys need to find a way to get the most out of him. They invested too much in Claiborne to see him become a bust. If he doesn’t get better, Claiborne will go down as the biggest bust in the Jerry Jones era.