Looking Back at the Morris Claiborne Trade


During the 2012 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys made a controversial trade to select a can’t miss prospect.  Many in the NFL community were calling Morris Claiborne the best defensive player in the entire draft pool.  The Cowboys agreed with many of the analysts and pundits.

After haggling with the St. Louis Rams, Dallas traded it’s first round selection at no. 14 and it’s second round choice of no. 45 for the Rams selection at no. 6 overall for the opportunity to select Claiborne.  It was a steep price to pay to move up 8 spots but Dallas was convinced that the young man was the future of the position and a surefire star.

Claiborne’s performance wasn’t spectacular at the 2012 draft combine but his numbers were certainly above average and his body of work at LSU spoke well of his potential.  His Junior year was especially impressive and he declared draft eligible after it’s completion. EVERYBODY bought the hype of the 2011 Jim Thorpe award winning Junior corner and many applauded Dallas’ trade to get him.

Mike Mayock did :

"“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.”-Mike Mayock"

His college coach was excited after the draft:

"“I couldn’t be happier for Mo. He’s very deserving of this. He’s a guy that will work long and hard to be the best professional football player that he can be. It also makes me very happy that he went to the Dallas Cowboys. He’s going to look great wearing the star.”-Les Miles"

This is how the young draftee himself felt:

"“Amazing. Following in the footsteps of Deion Sanders. Amazing.”-Morris Claiborne"

Unfortunately.  Since receiving his silver helmet, pads, and 10.2 million dollar signing bonus Morris Claiborne has been largely unimpressive.  He joined a crowded Dallas backfield in 2012 and didn’t set himself apart.  He had a reasonably solid rookie season in which he started 15 games.  He excelled in man coverage but floundered when Dallas went into zone coverage, which they did and still do often.

Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver

Eric Decker

(87) catches a pass while defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) during the first quarter of the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

His 2013 season was forgettable.  Claiborne managed to start only 7 games and saw action in 3 others.  Once again, Dallas’ zone heavy schemes seemed to befuddle  Morris.  He also suffered from injury after injury.  Claiborne overall seemed to regress from average in 2013.  2014 hasn’t started off promising as he was ‘limited’ during OTAs in late May and early June.

Morris Claiborne has not lived up to his billing.  That’s the bottom line.  You don’t give up 2nd round draft choices in order to move up 8 spots to select below average corners.  His supporters can blame inexperience, injuries, and schemes.  The fact remains that heading into the 2014 season, the 3rd year player needs a dynamite year to keep his position in Dallas.

Let’s take a look back for fun just to see what Dallas COULD have come away with in 2012 had they chose not to make the trade.  Because that’s what we do when we finish with a .500 record for three seasons running.  We dig up the past and assign blame while wondering what if!  Let’s say every pick, post no. 5 stays the same and Claiborne goes to St. Louis with that particular choice.

With the no. 14 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select


With the no. 45 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select


Heck of a possible haul huh?  I applaud aggressively pursuing a player in the draft that you feel strongly about but NEVER at the expense of a 2nd or 3rd round pick.  Those are incredibly valuable.  As a general rule of thumb in my experience: you get starters in the first 3 rounds and hope for contributors the rest of the way and perhaps find a late gem every now and then.

This was a case of Jerry Jones buying into hype and going all out to make a splash.  Dallas had ALREADY agreed to terms with free agent CB Brandon Carr in March.  A 50 million dollar deal I might add.

This is one move that Dallas NEVER should have made. Can Claiborne turn it around and make himself a worthy starter?  This fan is doubtful.