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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Rookie Watch: Praise for Morris Claiborne

By Dan Graziano

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne does not appear in this week's edition of Matt Williamson's Rookie Watch -- not even among the honorable mentions. But Matt uses the introduction to his weekly feature to address Claiborne as a prospect -- one he likes very much. Matt discusses the natural difficulty rookie cornerbacks have with their transition to the NFL, the reasons for which include the significant difference in the quality of the wide receivers and quarterbacks:
Plus, the rules of playing cornerback at this level take some time to get used to, as they favor the offense a great deal. But Claiborne is a natural press man corner -- and those guys are very difficult to find. He fits exactly what Dallas wants to do at the position, which allows the Cowboys to be aggressive with a variety of Rob Ryan blitz packages.

As Peterson has in his short time in the NFL, Claiborne will improve. In fact, he is one of the few players in the league with true shut-down potential.

Matt's conclusion is that it was worth it for the Cowboys to trade both their first-round and second-round picks for Claiborne, even if the payoff won't necessarily come this year. Had the Cowboys been trying to use the early part of the draft to solidify this year's team, it would have made sense to hold the two picks and draft linemen of some sort (one defensive, one offensive?) in those first two rounds. But as we have discussed here many times, the Cowboys' main focus right now is on building for the future, and they see Claiborne as a key piece of that. Matt agrees.

As for who's actually on the rookie watch -- Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is second behind Andrew Luck, and Redskins running back Alfred Morris is No. 9. Kind of thought I might see Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox among the honorable mentions, but I do not.