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?
One 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.Ã‚Â 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.
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.
The 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 MorrisÃ‚Â 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.
Jerry 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,Ã‚Â (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.