Dallas Cowboys: Tyrann Mathieu

Trade Mo Claiborne? No thanks

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
12:15
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IRVING, Texas -- The DeSean Jackson trade talks that never went anywhere got ESPN Insider Field Yates to think about some trades that should happen. Insider

Claiborne
Yates has one for the Dallas Cowboys, sending cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams.

He writes:
Dallas Cowboys trade cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams

Why it works for Arizona: Claiborne's NFL struggles are hard to figure after he starred at LSU, but his natural abilities are still enticing. The team added depth in the secondary with Antonio Cromartie this offseason, but Claiborne would bring higher upside playing alongside former LSU teammates Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Peterson also happens to be a free agent next offseason, and while the Cardinals are angling to keep him around long term, a rejuvenated Claiborne would give them insurance in case Peterson ends up elsewhere.

Why it works for Dallas: Claiborne is the Cowboys' third cornerback right now and has disappointed. The team has had better luck adding cornerbacks in free agency than through the draft and is desperate for big bodies along the defensive line. Williams has just one year left on his deal, but he presents an intriguing size and strength combination next to Henry Melton, a penetrating interior force. It may not be the most natural fit in what Dallas does defensively due to Williams' lack of quickness, but his ability to clog space would provide an upgrade against the run.




Maybe this could happen but it definitely won’t happen, and we’re not talking about any salary-cap issues that could hinder a deal. The Cowboys are not about to give up on Claiborne, whom they moved up to the sixth pick in the 2012 draft to select. And Williams does not bring enough value in return. He’s in the last year of his contract. The Cowboys control Claiborne’s rights for another two years.

This is a huge year for Claiborne, who has yet to flash the potential most people thought he had coming into the draft. Maybe it has been health. Maybe it has been scheme. Maybe it has been a lack of confidence. Maybe it’s all of the above.

But for the Cowboys to get the benefit of the trade up to get him, Claiborne has to come through in a big way in 2014. For them, not for the Cardinals -- or anybody else.

Three things: Cowboys-Cardinals

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
3:28
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Three things to watch for Saturday in the Arizona Cardinals' second exhibition game of the 2013 season, set for 4:30 p.m. ET at home against the Dallas Cowboys

1. Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Neither is going to play in this game, of course, but with Cardinals general manager Steve Keim invoking them to describe third-year cornerback Patrick Peterson, we'll be watching to see whether Peterson gets snaps at wide receiver. Peterson has impressed the Cardinals in that role in training camp. The team sounds serious about using him in that capacity in the regular season. If Peterson is going to be part of the receiver rotation, why wouldn't he play wideout in the preseason?

2. Rookie free safety. Third-round choice Tyrann Mathieu gets the start at free safety while Rashad Johnson recovers from injury. Mathieu collected a sack and aggressively defended a pass in his preseason debut against Green Bay. The Cardinals have called him one of the more dynamic players in camp to this point. Now, Mathieu gets a chance to work with the starters. Will he play the roughly 20 snaps coach Bruce Arians said he plans to allot for the first group? Or might he stay in the game longer as a rookie in need of reps?

3. The home crowd. Fans around the NFL often sell or give away their preseason tickets, making it tougher to capture the desired home-field feel. Having a broadly popular team such as the Cowboys coming to town could further dilute the home contingent. Still, new coach Arians has stressed the importance of re-establishing dominance at home. This is the first home game of any kind on his watch. It's got to feel a little special for him. Will the Cardinals give the home crowd reason to come back for more?

Cowboys missing 10 defensive players

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
2:54
PM ET
GLENDALE, Calif. -- The Dallas Cowboys will be without 10 defensive players for Saturday afternoon's preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Three of the missing defensive players, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and Morris Claiborne, are starters.

Sean Lissemore, Ernie Sims, Alex Albright, Matt Johnson, J.J. Wilcox, Eric Frampton and Toby Jackson are also out on the defensive side. Wilcox is missing the game for a personal reason. His mother died Tuesday.

On offense, Nate Livings, Ronald Leary, Kevin Kowalski, Ryan Cook, Ray Dominguez and Cole Beasley are out because of injury.

The Cardinals are missing Jarett Dillard, Jonathon Amaya, Ryan Williams, Javier Arenas, Dan Giordano, Rashard Johnson, Karlos Dansby, Kory Sperry, Jeff King, Dan Williams, Ricky Lumpkin and Frostee Rucker.

In terms of significant lineup changes, David Arkin starts at left guard for the Cowboys with Leary and Livings out. Tyrann Mathieu will start for the Cardinals at safety over Johnson, who is absent because of of an injury.

'Honey Badger' to start against Cowboys

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
4:30
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Ed Werder breaks down the Arizona Cardinals' decision to start rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu against the Cowboys on Saturday.

NFC East draft analysis

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
10:30
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The draft started off heavy in the NFC East, as the three teams with first-round picks this year used them on offensive linemen. And while there were a few little surprises and treats along the way, it never really got hot. All four of the division's teams had workmanlike drafts that balanced need and value and didn't stray into any of the juicy storylines. No Manti Te'o, Geno Smith or Tyrann Mathieu for us.

PODCAST
Chuck Cooperstein, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the Cowboys' draft picks and who was influencing Jerry Jones' decisions.

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There was a trade-down in the first round, as the Dallas Cowboys moved out of a No. 18 spot they didn't like and still managed to get their first-round offensive lineman, while adding a third-rounder to the mix. There were two trade-ups in the fourth round, as the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants maneuvered to add quarterbacks in surprising moves. And there were the Washington Redskins, without a first-rounder but fine with it because they have Robert Griffin III, who waited it out and got two talented safeties in the late rounds for a secondary that needs rebuilding.

We'll be breaking this all down for days and weeks and months, but here's a quick early look at the way the 2013 draft went in the NFC East.

BEST MOVE

In the absence of any earth-shaking moves in the early rounds by NFC East teams, I'm going to have to go with the Eagles taking tackle Lane Johnson at No. 4. They probably could have traded down and out of the pick, but this was a draft in which six offensive linemen went in the first 11 picks, and the value of the third-best tackle with the fourth pick was worth hanging in there. After what happened to their offensive line with injuries in 2012, the Eagles were wise to load up there, taking an athletic player who can start at right tackle right away and maybe move to left tackle down the road once Jason Peters is done. It also helps that Johnson is the kind of lineman who can move. If Chip Kelly plans to run a lot of read-option, or even a lot of bubble screens, Johnson's ability to get out and block at the second level is going to be a big help.

Also considered: The Eagles' trade-up for quarterback Matt Barkley at the top of the fourth round. ... The Redskins' getting two quality safeties in the fourth and sixth rounds in Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. ... The Cowboys trading down in the first round and getting wide receiver Terrance Williams with the third-round pick they added in that deal.

RISKIEST MOVE

[+] Enlarge
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireDamontre Moore put up impressive numbers at Texas A&M, but he has to disspell concerns over his work ethic and attitude at the next level.
There weren't any real big risks taken by NFC East teams with their most valuable picks in the first and second rounds, I didn't think. So I'm going with defensive end Damontre Moore, who went to the Giants in the third round. Moore is a big-time talent with big-time production numbers in college -- 12.5 sacks last year, 26.5 over the past three. But there are good reasons a player as good as he is was still there at pick No. 81, and in Moore's case those reasons include a marijuana bust and a reputation as a young man who struggles with attitude and work ethic.

Now, Moore is just 20 years old, and it's wrong to assume anyone that age will always be what he has been so far. But Moore is the player from this draft whose job it is to bolster the future of the Giants' pass rush with Osi Umenyiora gone and Justin Tuck aging. If he's a solid citizen and produces the way he did at Texas A&M, he's going to be a steal. If he's an attitude case who doesn't take to coaching and causes problems, the Giants are going to have to keep looking for long-term solutions at defensive end in the next several drafts. A third-round pick isn't too much to risk on a player with Moore's potential, but it's a pick with which the Giants could have found help elsewhere. So if he does flop, they will regret it.

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

The Eagles pulled the surprise of Day 3, moving up three spots to the top of the fourth round, where they selected USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Most analysts were convinced Kelly would seek a fast, athletic, running quarterback when he finally pulled the trigger on that position, but Barkley was a pro-style pocket passer at USC and doesn't fit the "system" everyone seems to be assuming Kelly is determined to run now that he's in the pros. As you know if you read this blog regularly, I think that's hogwash and that Kelly is smart enough to know that the best way to coach is to find talented players and figure out the best way to coach them -- not come wading in with your own "system" and only look for players who fit it.

Kelly knows Barkley from coaching against him in college, and Barkley is a guy who a year ago was thought of as a possible No. 1 overall pick. If 2012 was just a bad year for him and he ends up being a good NFL quarterback, nobody's going to care that he can't run the read-option. For a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick, which is what it cost the Eagles to move up and take him, it's a worthwhile risk. And it leaves Kelly with a lot of options at the most important position on his team as he begins his first offseason as an NFL coach.

The Giants pulled a surprise of their own later in the round, trading up six picks to select Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib to develop behind Eli Manning. The 32-year-old Manning hasn't missed a game since 2004, so it's unlikely Nassib sees the field anytime soon. But the Giants decided it was time to start thinking down the road at the position.

FILE IT AWAY

I liked the Cowboys' first round more than most people did, because I thought they absolutely needed to come out of that round with an offensive lineman, and they did. And while Travis Frederick may have been a reach at 31, reaching for an offensive lineman wasn't a bad move for this particular team in a draft in which eight offensive linemen went in the top 20 picks. They traded down from 18 and got the pick that netted Frederick and the third-round pick that netted wide receiver Terrance Williams, and they like that pair better than they liked what was available to them at 18.

But they won't have to look far to remember what might have been. The Giants took Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh at 19, which means the Cowboys could have stayed put and picked up a better-regarded lineman than Frederick (though, obviously, not also get Williams in the third). If Pugh turns out to be a great player for the Giants and Frederick flops in Dallas, the Cowboys could end up regretting the Day 1 trade-down in the long run.

Second-round mock draft: NFC East

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
8:58
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The second and third rounds of the NFL draft are set for tonight back at Radio City Music Hall, and the second will begin at 5:30 p.m. CT. After a first round that saw nine offensive linemen, one quarterback and no running backs taken Thursday, it's possible tonight will have more star power than the first night did. Scouts, Inc. has done a second-round mock draft Insider, and this is what they've come up with for the NFC East's teams.

3 (35). Philadelphia Eagles: John Cyprien, S, Florida International

In this scenario, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is off the board, taken by Jacksonville with the night's first pick, and the Eagles end up with the best remaining safety to fill a position of perennial need. Other possibilities I could imagine for the Eagles here include a defensive lineman with a 3-4 background, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz or Smith if he's available. I doubt they'll trade up for Smith (because they could have done so last night), and if he's gone I'm guessing they wait a few rounds for someone like Arizona quarterback Matt Scott.

15 (47). Dallas Cowboys: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

After getting the interior offensive line help they so badly needed in the first round, this mock has the Cowboys turning to the interior of the defensive line, where Jay Ratliff always seems banged-up and Jason Hatcher is entering the final year of his contract. Short is a big talent whose question marks are about motivation and inconsistent college production. He could be a developmental guy for them -- help some in a rotation in the first year but more as a down-the-road replacement for one of the starters. I'd also have no issue with the Cowboys addressing safety here with someone like Cyprien or D.J. Swearinger. Could see them looking at a running back like Eddie Lacy or Montee Ball. And no, I absolutely do not think it would be a mistake for them to take another offensive lineman such as Menelik Watson or Larry Warford here.

17 (49). New York Giants: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU

Linebacker is a need for the Giants. But as we've discussed, it's not one on which they tend to spend valuable resources. This is still a relatively high pick, and while Minter makes sense, I could easily see them spending this on a safety like the ones we've mentioned, a cornerback like Johnthan Banks or Jamar Taylor, a defensive end like Tank Carradine or even one of those running backs. They do like to have depth there.

19 (51). Washington Redskins: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Finally, the Redskins make their first pick of this year's draft, and it's at a position where they need immediate help and long-term depth. This draft is deep in defensive backs, and the Redskins should be able to take advantage of that with a good cornerback or safety at this spot. Tyrann Mathieu is still on the board in this mock, but I'd be surprised if Washington went that way, especially with so many less questionable options available. Cyprien, Swearinger or Shamarko Thomas make sense if they want to go safety. Banks, Taylor, Blidi Wreh-Wilson or Banks' teammate, Darius Slay, are among the good options at corner. If they don't take a defensive back here, maybe it's because a tackle like Watson or Terron Armstead fell to them. And you can't rule out wide receiver as a possibility here either.
PODCAST
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for a special announcement and to discuss his draft experience along with what we can expect from the Cowboys in 2013.

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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant took to Twitter to express his support for LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu on Thursday afternoon.

"A lot of great players in this draft but @Mathieu_Era is the best player in the draft," Bryant tweeted. "You can say whatever you want about him #gamechanger.

Dez followed up with: "I'm not saying what i say matters...I'm just giving my opinion on this draft like everyone else."

"It is very interesting to know where he is going ... who wouldn't want to know? the dude is a beast."



The Cowboys haven't expressed an interest in the "Honey Badger," who is projected to go in the middle rounds of the draft.

Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, missed the entire 2012 season after LSU expelled him for repeated positive tests for marijuana in August. After a few weeks in drug rehabilitation center in Houston, Mathieu was arrested in October for marijuana possession at LSU.

"I thought my bottom was when I got kicked out of school, but I think when I got arrested in October, that was a different bottom," Mathieu said at LSU's pro day.
OXNARD, Calif. – The news of Tyrann Mathieu being kicked off LSU’s team caught Morris Claiborne off guard.

PODCAST
Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne reacts to the news that former college teammate Tyrann Mathieu has been dismissed from LSU.

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Claiborne, who formed the country’s most celebrated cornerback duo with Mathieu last season, had heard only bits and pieces of the story by the time the Cowboys’ walkthrough ended. LSU coach Les Miles had announced earlier in the day that Mathieu was being dismissed from the team for violating school and team rules.

“I heard it and I was like, ‘What? No way,’” Claiborne said. “Then people kept telling me, so I’m going to go watch ESPN now and see what’s really going on.”

Claiborne described his relationship with Mathieu as “very close.” Claiborne said he frequently talks to Mathieu, but they had not discussed the issues that led to the dismissal of the “Honey Badger” from LSU.

“Obviously he did something that he wasn’t supposed to do,” Claiborne said. “But me knowing Tyrann, he’s a great guy, great kid. I mean, sometimes things just happen.”
IRVING, Texas -- Kneejerk reaction after one rookie camp practice: Don’t expect to see first-round pick Morris Claiborne returning punts for the Cowboys.

Owner/general manager Jerry Jones is wishy-washy on whether it’s worth risking Dez Bryant on punt returns, and Bryant was one of the nation’s premier return specialists at Oklahoma State. Claiborne never returned a punt for LSU, which had Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu filling highlight reels in those roles.

Claiborne got some work as a punt returner Wednesday during his first practice with the Cowboys, splitting the reps with undrafted receiver Cole Beasley. To put it kindly, it was quite an adventure for Claiborne, who whiffed on a couple of punts after misjudging the ball and bobbled others.

“Anytime you come back from as many months off as I have, you’re going to have a little rust,” Claiborne said. “I have to read the ball. That ball will tell you different stories. You have to focus and can’t worry about the sun; you just have to read the ball. It’s tricky sometimes.”

It shouldn’t be a tricky decision for the coaching staff to find someone other than Claiborne to return punts.

If he contributes in the return game, it’s much more likely to be on kickoffs. He averaged 26.3 yards on 19 kickoff returns, including one touchdown, for LSU.

But if Claiborne starts at cornerback, as expected, it’s unlikely that he’ll be used at all in the return game.

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