2012 Cowboys Draft Profiles: Morris Claiborne

Apr 26, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces cornerback Morris Claiborne (LSU) as the sixth overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

The first in a series of in-depth scouting reports on the Cowboys draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Last year, Patrick Peterson was my #1 rated player on my big board. While watching Peterson, I began to notice the cornerback playing opposite of him.

Teams were willing to stay away from Peterson and test Morris Claiborne, which is one of the things I like about him: he has a lot of experience for a younger cornerback. Teams tested him in college, and as a rookie, teams in the NFL are going to test him, but he is going to be ready.

Claiborne will significantly improve the ball skills in the Cowboys secondary. Very rarely did you see our cornerbacks make plays on the football and come away with interceptions, but his best skill is the ability to be a ballhawk. As a former wide receiver, he has tremendous hands and a knack for generating turnovers.

Cowboys War Room- Morris Claiborne, 6th pick 2012 NFL draft- NFL Network HD (via HollyMartins)

Ryan has good reason to be excited; he now has two cornerbacks who can play man-to-man press coverage on the outside, which will allow him to dial up creative blitzes. Claiborne should be able to just go out and cover whoever is in front of him, and the same goes for Brandon Carr.

At 5'11, Claiborne's size gives him a level playing field when going up against large wide receivers. His 33 1/4 inch arms will be a weapon he needs to use in the NFL. Some of the best ever to play the position used their length to their advantage. He does need to add more to his 188 pound frame, but he is only 22 years old.

Ultimately the success of this draft class will come to down to how good Claiborne becomes, and I think the kid is going to be one of the best at his position for a long time. He is a hungry and motivated young man with all the physical ability in the world. That's a bust-proof combination, and I would say that even if he went to a division rival.

Bio

  • Cornerback
  • LSU
  • 5'11
  • 188
  • 22 years old
  • 2011 Jim Thorpe Award winner
  • 2011 Consensus First-Team All American (10 different media outlets)
  • 2011 SEC Defensive Player Of The Year (Yes...not the Honey Badger)
  • 2011 First-Team All-SEC
  • 26 games started
  • 95 tackles, 11 interceptions

Positives

  • Premier cover cornerback, blue chip talent
  • Experienced cornerback who comes from an NFL caliber conference
  • Excellent in press coverage
  • Very good in zone and off-coverage
  • Excellent ball skills
  • At his best when the football is in the air
  • Can track the football better than some wide receivers
  • Uses his large frame to his advantage and will get physical
  • Excellent quickness and burst
  • Good tackler
  • Great footwork
  • Good awareness
  • Excellent athlete
  • Excellent returner
  • Hungry and motivated, the "RKG"
  • Upside and ceiling are through the roof

Negatives

  • Can get too high in his backpedal, but NFL coaching should fix that
  • His technique is good, but it can get so much better on the next level
  • Is very solid in the run game, but can still improve in that area

Even his negatives are a bit nitpicky, as he is a pretty complete player at such an early stage in his career. When he wants to be physical against the run, he will lay the wood on the opposition.

In the video below, NFL analyst Mike Mayock pointed out that he gets too high in his pad level and backpedal, and that will make you lose explosiveness:

New defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson has coached some really talented defensive backs in his coaching career. After seeing the job he did with Darrelle Revis in New York and Joe Haden in Cleveland, you have to be excited that he will be working with another premier talent like Claiborne.

Prediction

Claiborne will become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. His mental makeup and physical ability combine for a can't lose scenario.

Ultimate Morris Claiborne Highlights (2012 Draft 6th Pick - Dallas Cowboys) (via TheVikingsworld2011)

*Shoutout to TheVikingsworld2011, this guy makes the BEST sports highlight videos on Youtube.

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