Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) on the field before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Could Dallas Release Morris Claiborne?

What would it take for the Dallas Cowboys to release Morris Claiborne?  The 2012 draftee has yet to make a consistent impact in Dallas despite the steep price Dallas paid in order to select him.  When is it time to cut ties with the young corner?  Is the 24 year old a lost cause or can he still turn it around?

Through 22 starts in 25 career appearances, Claiborne has underwhelmed thus far to the tune of 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown and 81 total tackles.  Let’s look at his career to try and determine where it will go from here.

 

The Beginning

The scouts saw a prize in the 2012 draft.  A franchise changer.  Morris Claiborne was a special player in the eyes of the Dallas Cowboys.  The team gladly forked over it’s 2nd rd pick during the draft to move up and select the Junior cornerback from LSU 6th overall.  Dallas and it’s fans exuded excitement when talking about the choice.  The sky was the limit!  He was an important part of rebuilding a secondary that by all accounts had struggled for the better part of a decade.  Times were looking up for the embattled defensive backfield with the new addition.

Renowned NFL draft guru Mike Mayock had this to say about Morris Claiborne:

One of the main reasons I think the Dallas Cowboys haven’t been to a Super Bowl in some time is because of their secondary. Morris Claiborne is a special corner. He’s got the best ball skills of any corner coming out in the last several years. This is a rare athlete

 

 

The First Season: 2012

Morris Claiborne started 15 games in his rookie season and had 55 total tackles with 1 interception.  He added a fumble recovery for a touchdown as well.  Claiborne was targeted 69 times by opposing quarterbacks.  When targeted, the rookie allowed a 69.6% completion rate and over 8 yards per attempt.  He also allowed a quarterback rating of 107.8.  The absolute low point of Claiborne’s rookie year was his first contest against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he gave up a long touchdown pass in addition to being flagged 5 times in the game.  The young player found some success later on the season and seemed to catch his rhythm in coverage often and didn’t get flagged the rest of the year.

His first year was a very uneven one.  There were good times and bad times and mediocre times, such is the standard with rookie corners.

Of note, Claiborne missed OTAs in March of 2012 after a wrist surgery.  He also sprained his right MCL during camp in August which caused him to sit out the large majority of camp.  Finally, the rookie missed a week 15 game against Pittsburgh because of a concussion.

 

The Second Season: 2013

The 2nd year corner would start 7 games and make appearances in 3 more during his sophomore season.  Claiborne accumulated 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery throughout the year.  To be blunt, this was a year of regression for Claiborne and he didn’t exhibit the progress a team expects from a rookie to a 2nd year ‘veteran’.

One issue was injuries.  Take a look.

  • August 2013, left knee sprain forced him to miss all of the preseason
  • November 2013, strained hamstring forced him to miss 6 games

Another issue was quite simple.  He was ineffective and seemed to lose his confidence.

He was benched in early October.   Claiborne played in just 2 games during November and December of 2013.

Rough year.

 

The Third Season: 2014?

Back in April, Claiborne was let it be known that he was ready to answer critics and live up to expectations.  Then comes late May and time for OTAs and here we go again.  Training camp finally arrives and guess what?  Morris Claiborne has been very limited in camp thus far and didn’t play in the first preseason game last night against San Diego.

 

Verdict

We as fans fall into 1 of 2 categories when it comes to our feelings on Morris Claiborne.

Team cut him.

We paid a kings ransom in 2012 for a court jester!  He’s got to go, bring on Orlando baby!  He’s soft as Charmin with half the usefulness!  He isn’t worth what he’s paid!  He scored a 4 on the wonderlic test, enough said!  Jamaal Charles ran him over, the smallest running back in the league pancaked him!  Wow!

or

 

Team keep him.

He’s still young, give him time.  Claiborne has missed a ton of learning time with injuries so he’s behind the curve.  Give him time to catch up.  The potential is there.  We gave up too much to quit on him now.  It’s the scheme, Morris is a press corner not a zone corner.  Give him another year and he will prove you all wrong!

 

I tend to fall into the 2nd category.  Dallas gave up a hugely valuable 2nd round pick in order to get the LSU corner and how silly would we all feel if he went to another team and blossomed?  Let’s get him healthy and on the field for 2014 and see if he’s effective but keep our eyes peeled in case we get the 2013 version of him again.

I feel this is the year that will make or break the 3rd year man.  Is he a bust or not?  He has to get on the field and stay on the field in 2014.  His development cannot afford many more injuries causing missed reps.  To be continued.

How do you feel?

 

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