Morris Claiborne

Morris Claiborne is key to Cowboys defense on Wednesday night

Dallas Cowboys 1st-round pick Morris Claiborne could be the key to their performance against Eli Manning and the Giants on Wednesday night.

Eli Manning will look Claiborne's direction early and often

Last season, the Giants picked on Terrence Newman, completing 12 of 19 passes thrown his direction for 240 yards in their two meetings. This year, Newman is gone, replaced by Claiborne and veteran Brandon Carr.

Given the choice, Manning will likely target the rookie Claiborne, and will hope to have the same success he found when picking on Newman last season. If Claiborne can come up some big plays, the Cowboys may be able to pull off the upset. But if Claiborne can’t improve upon Newman’s performance in 2011, it will likely be another long night for the Dallas defense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Rookie Preview: Dallas Cowboys

Morris Claiborne – The Cowboys 1st-round pick will be the only rookie starter in Dallas. He’s missed time this offseason so his development may be slowed, but the Cowboys will rely on him and Brandon Carr to anchor the secondary.

Cole Beasley – The only rookie to crack the Cowboys 53-man roster on offense was an undrafted rookie from SMU. Beasley beat out fellow rookie 5th-round pick Danny Coale for the job. He’s one of six receivers on the active roster the Cowboys don’t have a clear-cut No. 3 and No. 4 option, so he could see some action early as they sort out their depth chart at the position.

Tyrone Crawford – Crawford will provide depth on the Cowboys defensive line, rotating in at defensive end with Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher.

Other notables: linebacker Kyle Wilber, safety Matt Johnson

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Morris Claiborne set to make Cowboys debut on Saturday

Dallas Cowboys 1st-round pick Morris Claiborne is finally healthy and ready to make his preseason debut on Saturday against the Chargers. Claiborne stated that he would be willing to play the entire game if coaches let him, but it’s likely the Cowboys will ease him into action.

Claiborne has battled injuries throughout the offseason (wrist and knee) and is just now completing his first full week of practice.

It’s never ideal to rely on a rookie, but the Cowboys need Claiborne to play a significant role in their secondary. As a result, his return to the field may be the best news the Cowboys have received in training camp thus far, giving him three full games to get up to speed.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Draft Needs: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys made a bold move by trading into the top 10, but they got a great deal from the Rams and have now solidified their most glaring weakness on defense.

Normally I’m critical of teams that trade up as far as the Cowboys, but only because of the price tag associated with climbing into the top 10. The Cowboys, however, were able to hang on to their 2013 1st-round pick, the usual asking price for such a blockbuster trade.

The selection of Morris Claiborne immediately solidifies what was the Cowboys most glaring weakness entering the offseason. Claiborne should make an immediate impact, and should be considered an early candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Due to the free agent acquisition of Brandon Carr, Claiborne will be the No. 2 corner, which will put him in favorable matchups and allow him to develop, rather than being thrown into the fire as he would have in Tampa Bay or Minnesota.

Tyrone Crawford may have been a slight reach in the 3rd round, but the Cowboys needed to address the depth at defensive end. He’s a prototypical 3-4 end and should be given an opportunity to compete for playing time with Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman.

The selection of Kyle Wilber was definitely a reach and didn’t address an immediate are of concern.

Matt Johnson is a developmental prospect and a significant reach in the 4th round. He’ll primarily play on special teams early in his career and be groomed to play strong safety down the road. He clearly has the size/athleticism combination, but probably would have still been on the board in the 5th or 6th round.

I love the selection of Danny Coale in the 5th round. His upside is limited due to his lack of speed and overall athleticism, but he is a classic possession receiver who should be able to contribute as the 3rd or 4th option, even as a rookie.

James Hanna rose up draft boards with an impressive combine workout, but his lack of production in college raises some concern. A player with his raw skills should have been able to find a role at Oklahoma, an offense which has a role found roles for athletic tight ends like Jermaine Gresham in the  past. That said, the risk/reward is definitely in the Cowboys favor in the 6th round.

Caleb McSurdy has a decent chance to make the final roster cuts due to the Cowboys lack of depth at inside linebacker. There’s a chance he could beat out Bruce Carter if he impresses in training camp.

Overall, this draft was all about the addition of Claiborne. The Cowboys clearly view him as one of the missing pieces to their championship run. The trade was an aggressive move, but one that could prove to be well worth the risk if he lives up to expectations.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment

Morris Claiborne scouting report

Morris Claiborne CB LSU
Ht: 6’0″

Wt: 185

Strengths:
Elite athleticism. A big-time playmaker; does a great job putting himself in position to make plays. Above average hands for a defensive back; started his career at wide receiver. Played a ton of man coverage in 2011, with limited help over the top from safeties; trusted by coaches to never get beat deep. Does a great job turning his head and playing the ball rather than strictly mirroring his man. Adequate to above-average speed. Surprisingly physical for his size; isn’t shy about mixing it up at the line of scrimmage.
Weaknesses:
Lacks elite size; will struggle against taller, more physical receivers at the next level. Still learning the position; survives based off of his elite athleticism and instincts. Doesn’t offer much help against the run; looks very timid and often shies away from contact. Lacks the strength and technique to be a consistent tackler.
Comments:
Claiborne entered the 2010 season as a raw prospect, but was forced to learn quickly as teams avoided Patrick Peterson on the other side. He still isn’t a finished product, and won’t be as highly rated as Peterson was in the 2011 draft, but he does have the potential to be an elite player at the next level. He may take two or three years to fully develop, as he learns the nuances of the position and bulks up a little, but he could be a special player down the road.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Leave a comment