Is Morris Claiborne A Bust?

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Morris Claiborne received nothing but hype from the media entering the 2012 NFL draft. The Dallas Cowboys had him listed as the best defensive player on their board. Based on his performance thus far, it’s time to examine the lingering question: Is Morris Claiborne a bust?

MorrisClaiborne copyOne of the biggest knocks on Morris Claiborne was that he isn’t physical enough for the NFL. The other knock on him was that he didn’t possess the elite straight line speed needed to stay with the top wideouts in the NFL. This was one of the main reasons he took a back seat to Patrick Peterson while at LSU.

When I did my evaluation on Morris Claiborne, I stressed that in college he could get away with just using his athletic ability and this caused him to get lazy in his technique. I made it clear that he would need a hard nosed coach who could instill disciplined technique in to him. I also stressed the point that he wasn’t a real good open field tackler, he made business decisions rather than break down and take on ball carriers head on, and he needed to learn to wrap up rather than just throw a shoulder as illustrated in the image above. This style of tackling can result in the same type of injury he sustained vs the Giants week one.

The other thing I stressed was that he went up against a lot of teams that used a run heavy offense: this means he didn’t have as many targets as other cornerbacks in the draft.  The other point I stressed was that he struggled getting off of blocks. This limited his ability to help on run plays. I also indicated that he needed to get stronger and gain some weight to compete with bigger, stronger more physical receivers at the NFL level. Week one vs the New York Giants, Eli Manning went after Morris Claiborne immediately and connected on a pass for over 50 yards. The Dallas Cowboys gave up well over 400 passing yards. Eli Manning continued to pick on Morris Claiborne throughout the game.

Brandon BoykinAccording to NFL.com: Morris Claiborne is currently ranked 164th among all DB’s and tied for 21st among 2nd year DB’s.

Morris Claibornes’ current ranking is tied for 12th among 2nd year CB’s. He has 3 tackles, 0 PDef, 0 INT and 0 FF’s. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Brandon Boykin in the 4th round the same year the Dallas Cowboys traded up (utilizing a 1st and a 2nd round pick) to select Morris Claiborne 6th overall in the 2012 NFL draft. Brandon Boykin is currently ranked 2nd among all CB’s with 11 tackles, 4 PDef, 1 INT, and 1 FF.

The amusing part about all of this is: the number one ranked CB among 2nd yr DB’s is leonard Johnson: an undrafted free agent out of Iowa. His career numbers are 18 games played and 6 starts (yes only 6 starts: he was a #3 CB as a rookie): 53 tackles, 11 PDef, 3 INT, 1 TD and 1 forced fumble. As compared to Morris Claiborne, who’s career numbers are 17 games played and 17 starts: 58 tackles, 8 PDef, 1 INT, 0 TD’s and 1 FF.

MikeJenkins copyThe Dallas Cowboys released Mike Jenkins in favor of Morris Claiborne. Jenkins is currently ranked tied for 64th among all DB’s with Brandon Carr (who Jerry Jones gave a $50 million contract) and 24th among all CB’s. Following his 1st 18 starts in the NFL, Mike Jenkins had 68 tackles, 23 PDef, 1 INT, 1 TD and 1 FF. He currently has 9 tackles and 1 PDef. I wonder if releasing Mike Jenkins was a bad Idea? Especially considering in 50 career starts he amassed 154 tackles ( 3.08 per game avg) 8 INT, and 44 PDef. Keep in mind that Jenkins was recovering from a complete shoulder replacement in 2012, but with only 2 starts, he had 14 tackles, and 3 PDef. Compare this to Morris  Claibornes 3 tackles and 0 PDef in 2 starts this year and I have to conclude that yes, releasing Mike Jenkins was a bad idea. Dropping 2 draft picks on Morris Claiborne was a worse idea.

When I take in to consideration that the Dallas Cowboys are currently ranked 24th against the pass, have allowed an average 313.5 passing yards per game, 30 1st downs, and 6 TD’s as compared to the Oakland Raiders, who are currently ranked 6th against the pass, only allowed 180.5 passing yards per game, 21 first downs, and 3 TD’s, It becomes obvious to me that the raiders made out like bandits acquiring Mike Jenkins for a base salary of $800,000, a signing Bonus of $550,000 and a misc bonus of $150,000 for a total of $1.5 million against the cap.

Once again, Jerry Jones got stuck holding the bag. All toll, Jerry Jones invested almost $80 million on Carr and Scandrick, and a 1st and 2nd round draft pick on Mo, for what is proving to be one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.

Whats worse?

JerryJones4Jerry Jones already had to restructure Morris Claibornes’ contract to get under the salary cap for 2013. The original contract was for $16,264, 502. By restructuring they turned $10,268,728 in to signing bonus: Morris Claiborne receives an average salary of $4,066,126. All $16,264,502 of the contract is guaranteed! For 2013, Morris Claiborne goes $3,696,478 against the cap and there is $13,307,320 in dead money out there. Mike Jenkins will only go $1.5 million against the Raiders salary cap for 2013.

What I find even more amusing is that Buster Skrine,  (one of the players from my “The Guys No One Is Talking About” series entering the 2011 draft), who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 5th round, is currently ranked 14th among all DB’s with 16 tackles and 2 PDef in only 2 games this season.

Buster Skrine was brought in behind some solid veteran corners in Cleveland as a rookie, as a result, he saw minimal game time. He still amassed 18 tackles, 2 PDef, and his 1st career interception. He had zero starts as a rookie. After 34 career games with the Browns and only 7 starts, he has amassed 119 tackles, 15 PDef, and 1 INT.

So, to answer the question: is Morris Claiborne a bust? It’s beginning to look that way. However, it is obvious that he definitely wasn’t worth a 1st and a 2nd round draft pick, and he definitely isn’t worth more than twice as much money than Mike Jenkins.

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  • californy

    Wow great article I think you nailed this one. This has to be one of my favorite articles from you. I am even high on the player mention here.
    You do know that Newman and Pacman are some of the NFL best CB who get
    little to no credit. I just havent seen the the development of Mo to
    justify where he was drafted. Leonard Johnson CB and Burflict were 2 of
    my favorite not drafted player from last year. I believe this week the boys will meet another good CB in Janois Jenkins, he had 4 Interception and 14 PD his rookie season

    • Thank You! and I agree, JJ needs to hire a GM, he way overspends for the production he gets.

      • californy

        Spending money is not the solution. It all in good player evaluation and having the system that develops the players

  • californy

    The Boys could of had Janois Jenkins and Bobby Wagner Line backer instead of Mo .Bobby Wagner had 140 tackles, 4 PD and 3 interception last year. Wagner was 2rd runner up to Kuechey for Defensive Rookie of the year

    • there were a lot of better ways to handle that draft

  • californy

    Alfanso Dennard would of been a better pick than McSurdy, he in 10 games had 35 tackles and 8 PD and 3 interception last year

  • californy

    I don’t like the zone defense at all, but we don’t have a choice since we just don’t have the safeties who can play man coverage.

  • Johnathan Nguyen

    Lets hope Claiborne is a late bloomer for our sakes shall we? lol…In this defense, he’s required to help with the run and quite frankly, he’s not that player. I still think he has enough talent to be a special player, because of where he was drafted, he doesn’t have the luxury to develop in our eyes, but i think he can still be a very good player in this league. Let him have another year then we can label him. God i hope not!

    • we are stuck with him no matter what happens: his entire contract is guaranteed! Only a complete idiot would guarantee the entire contract of an unproven rookie! 1st round picks bust all the time: JJ is a sucker for a good agent.

      • Johnathan Nguyen

        Ouch lol..Speaking of idiot, here is our GM quoting:

        “I think we’ll see more play-action, more zone blocking,” Jones said. “You’ll see us emphasize the tight ends more. I think this Terrance Williams is really improving practice by practice. I think he can put some pressure on those (defensive) backs.”

        Why we are going to the freaking rook on critical downs 2 games in a row? JJ got something to do with it, just a hunch lol. Btw, great article Cas.

        • thank you: I guarantee you that JJ makes the roster not the coaches. He is still trying to prove to the whole world that he can do it his way cuz Jimmy got the credit: meanwhile 1 playoff win in 18 yrs

  • frank

    hopefully he develops into a legitimate starting corner.I said all along they should keep jenkins they apparently liked him enough to pick him in the 1st round. Jerry just a fool

  • osnappp

    Great article, I think you wrote what a lot of people have been thinking. drafting is not an exact science, but they really have to hedge their bets.

  • rh_stranger1

    this is a little off subject. noticed the browns traded richardson to the colts today. can only think one thing…. they are going after johnny football. DARN IT!!! lol. why else would you trade the 3rd overall pick from last year for a pick next year? ill go on record saying if i was gm of dallas thats what my draft strategy would have been. i would have traded out of the 1st in this past draft to get an extra pick in the 2014 draft, then packaged those picks to move up and draft johnny football. lets see, had jerry not extended romo, then his old contract would be up at the end of this season. that would have saved this team approximately 90 in cap space over the next 6 seasons. not to mention give us a super talented young qb for a fraction of the price. i cant stand jerry jones. his reign cant end soon enough

    • I don’t think any player is worth more than 1 high draft pick, however I do think JJ should have tried to get a pick for Spencer rather than tag him.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Johnny Football sucks. Noodle for an arm. Runs first chance he gets. He looks at his first maybe second option then runs. Not going to work in the NFL. He also had the benefit of a great O line last year and even this year.

    • Johnathan Nguyen

      You must have not watched ONE Johnny Football game!! You wouldn’t have that opinion of him if you just watch ONE game buddy…He can throw 50-60 yards down field, If arm strength is your forte then Jamarcus Russels is your QB, good luck man.

  • rh_stranger1

    @gabriel – thats cool, I know there are going to be questions about johnny. I hear the experts debating already. But the guy can flat play. There is no debating that. I would love to have a player that dangerous as my qb. He can kill you run or pass. Seems like s.f. and seattle are having alot of success with weapons like that. Its all irrelevant at this point. JJ blew it, unless of coarse we end up with the #1 pick. But then there is romos contract. And yes by seasons end I believe he will be the top nfl prospect, if he isnt already. Dude is complete “it” factor. Youll see. Just wondering how you can knock what he does on the field. The guy toys with his opponents. 500+ yards against bama this year, a win in bama last year. The thrashing he laid down in the cotton bowl. The only freshman hiesman winner. How great do you have to be to have “football” as your knickname? real damned great!

    • I am content having Tanney developing, he will be a solid qb

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Fact of the matter is, Russell Wilson, Colin Kapernick, RG3, and Cam Newton have arm talent that Manziel doesn’t. Manziel benefits from his supporting cast, which makes up for his weaknesses. Never said he wasn’t a great college player, as he is, but not pro potentional.

    • Wilson isn’t all that he was only 1 for 10 at one point the other night with an int lol

  • rh_stranger1

    How was joe montana’s arm strength? He didnt have that big arm scouts droul over. Thats why he slid in the draft. Going for the big arm gets teams in trouble when evaluating qb’s. Jamarcus russell and ryan leaf come to mind. The absolute #1 prerequisite for playing qb in my mind is having the smarts to play the position. It is easily the toughest position mentally to play in any sport. That is why joe montana was able to have the success he had. Joe knew where to go with the football. And keep in mind he was a super bowl champion before jerry rice ever got there. That is johnny football. He knows where to go with the ball. He has the “it” factor. There is no denying that. Forget that big arm. Give me the guy that knows where to go with the ball. How bout tom brady? Same knock on him sent him to the sixth round! And where is johnny playing? The SEC. The sec is the most nfl ready conference there is. Its big boy football every week. They play the pro game in that conference. And johnny lights them up. Ill take johnny football in a heartbeat

    • I still contend that Kellen Moore is a better QB than RGIII or Luck for the reasons you mentioned about Montana.

    • Johnathan Nguyen

      I am a huge fan of Johnny and i have to agree whole heartedly with you there! He is a much better QB than others given him credit for. I watched every A&M game being from Houston, the kid has that “IT” factor like Kellen Moore whom i am still a huge fan of his like Cas. Johnny can groom behind Romo for 2, 3 years and become that one weapon that will elevate everyone around him. We only see his crazy highlights where he ran every where but the kid is a great passer! I prefer him over every QB in this draft because of one intangible Johnny has, the “IT” FACTOR! Arm strength is so over rated! You got to be smart, which he is, but he also has the “IT” which not too many people have. BTW…We have NO CHANCE getting Johnny Football!!! I would go absolutely Bonkers if we land that kid. He is a huge Cowboys fan like all of us here.

      • I think everyone will eventually see that Tanney has the “IT” factor too

        • Johnathan Nguyen

          I like Tanney a lot too Cas, don’t get me wrong, but Johnny is just a whole other level of problems for defenders. He’s a lot like Romo in the way he extends plays Cas and he runs even more elusively than RG3 and Vicks. Tanney and Matt Johnson are my pet cats on our team. I would be very happy if Tanney can develop into our future QB. He seems to have that moxie about him too. He just needs time to grow. He has all the tools it seems.

          • More and more teams are learning the hard way that these running QB’s like Johnny have very short careers: The Redskins sold the farm on RGIII and he is one knee shot away from the street. Now that he can’t run, their offense is struggling. This read option is just a phase in the NFL and it wont last long. The Chiefs had Chip Kellys’ number already. QB’s are to expensive for the injury risk involved. Give me a college QB that ran a pro style offense every time.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Never said arm talent was everything. If your best ability is running as a QB you won’t last. Atleast the QB mentioned have the ability to do so.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    If Dallas wanted a QB then they should grab Bridgewater or Derek Carr. Carr is a 2nd to 3rd rounder but will climb as the season goes. If not then an OT is what I really want. Let the guy battle Smith for LT loser gets RT. Smith was rated 4th best OT in the NFC as a rookie, or 4th best RT either way it is a win win situation.

  • rh_stranger1

    Manziels best ability is making plays. Most of those thru the air. His legs give him the ability to improvise, extend plays, and gain yards. A qb must be able to be effective from the pocket. I definately agree there. And I have seen enough of johnny to realize he is very effective from the pocket. Mobilty is just an added demension. Now as I stated in my original post this is all a mute point. Jerry will sink on the ship with romo. That contract shows exactly how dedicated jerry is to romo. Its a darn shame. Obviously I prefer johnny football but as you have stated there are several great options at qb in this draft. And unfortunately none of them will land in dallas

  • rh_stranger1

    @cas – I thought very highly of moore coming out of college. All the man did was win and with great efficiency. Cant remember where he landed but thats a guy who should be given a chance to compete. Aj mccarron reminds me of moore. Guys that are just efficient qb’s that dont put there teams in bad situations

    • Morre is in Detroit and may have something to do with them putting a hold on contract talks with stafford

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    rhstranger1 I will stop trying to convince you, but that is fine. You are entitled to your opinion.

  • rh_stranger1

    Gabriel ya im totally drinkin the johnny football cool aid lol. What can I say. The dude is sick! And im sick…of romo and jerry and losing

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Romo has had 3 OC and 3 different HC since he got here. He has changed defenses twice. He has had only 1 1000 yard rusher and that was one year. He had a good line for about 3 years before it collapsed. Only constant has been Witten. I give Romo the benefit of the doubt. How man HC and OC has Brady, Manning, Brees, or Rodgers had.

    • rh_stranger1

      romo had garrett calling his plays for 6 years. thats plenty of time to fully understand an offense. they always put up good offensive numbers, its the int’s at the worst time that im sick of. its the driving the ball up and down the field just to stall out inside the 20 and settle for field goals. brady has had his share of shuffling offensive coordinators. with all the success the pats had several of his coaches got head coaching jobs for other teams. petyon manning started with jim mora, then tony dungy came in, then dungy left, now he is in denver. i make no excuses for romo. he had plenty of chances. but im not gonna sit here and put all the blame on romo. there is more than enough blame to go around. jj is at the top of the list. the whole team takes turns stinking it up. sometimes its romo, sometimes its the defense, the whole thing has been a train wreck for some time now. but romo is the qb, and his mistakes are magnified and im quite tired of it. we cant change out the whole team at once. i would like to get a young franchise qb to start with. sadly this thing most likely wont get completely turned around until jerry jones is gone. only father time knows when that is. but im young, i will live to see the next regime.

      • I am willing to bet that Manziel doesn’t have close to as good of a career as Romo. People forget he is top 5 all time in career passer rating and Aikman is in the 40’s. It takes 53 guys to win. The QB is only 1 cog in the machine.

        • rh_stranger1

          only 2 guys have a win loss record attached to their name on a football team… the qb and the coach. right or wrong thats how it is. its the bottom line. those two get most of the glory and most of the blame, and rightfully so. the qb has his hands on the ball every single play, and the coach has his hands on the team every single day. when jerry jones bought the team i remember what he said at his initial press conference…. ” we will win….. winning is the name of the game”. that was a much wiser version of jerry jones than what he has become today. i pay little attention to the numbers tony romo has put up in his career. the numbers that scream to me from romo…. 1-3 in the playoffs. last year in week 17 was it for me. the straw that broke the camels back. we have the ball with 3 plus minutes in the game. a chance to beat the redskins, win the division, and secure a home playoff game. romo quickly ended our hopes by throwing his 3rd int of the game. then he is rewarded 6 years 106. its baffling. i believe johnny football will put up outstanding numbers in the nfl. i also believe he is the type of player that will elevate the play of those around him. and i believe he will be better than 1-3 in the playoffs. romo has not set the bar very high. win is the name of the game

          • P Manning was 0-5 in the playoffs before getting a ring. He has zero wins in 9 of his trips to the playoffs and it was his picks that cost them the game in the playoffs last yr, the same with Brady. The year P Manning did get a ring he threw 5 picks in the wildcard game against KC, but his defense held them to only 6 points. Every QB in the NFL has bad days with picks. The only difference is, in most cases, Tony gets exposed because his defense lets them march right down the field and score.

            I remember Aikman having a season in 94 where he had 12 TD’s and 13 picks. or vice-versa I forget which it was, It took Elway 15 years to get a ring. Dan Marino never got one, Name one QB that ever went on the field by himself and won a game.

            Matt Ryan has 1 win in 4 trips to the playoffs. All of this crap about the QB was brought on by the media. Eli Manning has 2 rings and right now has the most interceptions of any QB over the last 5 years. I don’t care what you say, Tony Romo doesn’t have the supporting cast to win a super bowl. No QB has ever won a superbowl averaging 62 rush yds a game and having less than 10 rushing TD’s a season.When a QB is forced to pass 50 or more times a game it’s asking for turnovers. Especially when he is doing it while under constant heavy pressure. No QB will win a super bowl when the defense is giving up over 20 pts a game.

          • rh_stranger1

            good points cas. i have to agree with alot of what you say. manning did have a terrible start to his playoff career but at least he was getting to the playoffs. eli got carried by his defense for his rings, although he did make some spectacular plays that had to be made in both super bowls. brady is just on another level when it comes to performing in the playoffs, but even he got bailed out by one of the worst calls in nfl history. matt ryan…. i think he is alot like romo. just doesnt get it done. very similar in the way they had the number 1 seed then got knocked out in the divisional round by a team that just got hot at the right time. i think everyone knew when elway was losing super bowls that those broncos teams just werent as talented as the teams they were matched up with. as far as romo goes, last season was just it for me. that last int when we had a chance to win and go to the playoffs is something i just cant get over. i think the cowboys are a very talented team. there offensive line is playing decent, they have game breaking recievers, reliable witten, good backs, the defense has solid players across the board, as well as a great coach in kiffin. i think this team can go on a big time run. but they arent going to do it airing it out. like you said when you pass the ball this much you are just begging to turn the ball over. i dont put the blame squarly on romo. he is just asked to carry far to much of the burden. callahan and garrett are to blame for that. and if the result is the same this year then obviously the blame once again falls on jerry. in several posts i have made it clear that i am all for spending a very high pick on a qb, but at the same time i realize that garrett and callahan need to change their approach. we will see sunday if all this talk of running the ball comes to fruition

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Yeah he is a 10 year vet and yet people forget he has only started for about 7 years.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Tom Brady is horrible in playoffs. His statistics go down in the playoffs and he is one of the worst in the Superbowls. He gets bailed out by his defenses and kicker. It also helps that he has a very good coach.

    • P. Manning has the worst playoff record of all time: he has zero wins in 9 of his appearances

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    My dream scenario is when Garrett is fired, is to hire Jon Gruden to be the HC and then for us to grab Chris Petersen from Boise to be our Offensive Coordinator and playcaller. That would really send us in the right direction. But we know that even Gruden is a long shot.

    • I would love to have Gruden, but at the same time, I would even take Petersen as the head coach.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        Oh no Cas I would be fine with Petersen as HC as well, but to have him learn a little under Gruden for 2-3 years would really be amazing. Gruden will beat the offense into greatness. Just saying the combo of Petersen and Gruden would be great. I think Petersen is the second coming of Jimmy Johnson. But I would really love the second coming of Tom Landry.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Really like Rod Marinelli and what he has done with what he has to work with. Love the aggressiveness from the line. Never thought Nick Hayden would be a decent player. Jason Hatcher is a beast. Hatcher was rated the second best 3-4 end in the league last year on a down per down basis. Only Watt was higher.

  • Johnathan Nguyen

    Yep…I’m bowing down to you right now Cas. He is a bust!!!