Young Guns: Morris Claiborne

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
9:30
AM ET
Since 2010 the Dallas Cowboys have done a better job of finding talent. As a core of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer and Doug Free inch closer to the end of their careers, the Cowboys need a group of young players heading into their primes to take ownership of the team. Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer analyze those players from the class of 2010 on.

IRVING, Texas -- When the Cowboys traded up to the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft in 2012 for Morris Claiborne, they thought they were getting a player similar to another LSU cornerback, Patrick Peterson.

The Cowboys had Claiborne as their highest-rated cornerback since Deion Sanders.

After two seasons they are still waiting for Claiborne to play to the potential they thought he had.

He has just two interceptions in two seasons. Despite the coaches’ claims of his ability to make plays on the ball, he just simply hasn’t done that. In fact, he has gotten turned around more when in position to make a play.

Injuries hampered Claiborne in 2013. He missed six games because of a hurt hamstring. He also had to deal with personal tragedy with the death of his father.

The Cowboys need Claiborne to be the physical, playmaking cornerback for this defense to succeed. He hinted early last season that the scheme was not a good fit for him. The Cowboys drafted him with the idea of playing man-to-man, but they played more zone early in the season, playing their cornerbacks off the line of scrimmage.

The hope was that it would lead to more plays, but it didn’t happen for Claiborne or Brandon Carr. Only Orlando Scandrick played at a better level in 2013 from the previous year.

It is time for Claiborne to show he has all of the attributes to be a top-flight cornerback. While he said confidence was not an issue, he was a step late too many times. Perhaps that was due to a lack of faith in his leg. Perhaps it was a lack of faith in the scheme.

This is a critical year for Claiborne. He has to commit himself to the offseason program and get stronger and faster. He has to commit himself to his craft instead of relying on his natural gifts.

It’s too early to give a final grade on the Cowboys’ decision to move up to draft Claiborne, but it’s not trending well so far.

Young Guns

Barry Church
DeMarco Murray
Sean Lee
Dez Bryant
Terrance Williams
Bruce Carter

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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