Morris Claiborne

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 Comments Off

Dallas Cowboys select Morris Claiborne, Grade A

I absolutely love this trade for both teams.

The Dallas Cowboys now have one the game’s best duos at cornerback in Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. Claiborne is arguably more NFL-ready than Patrick Peterson was a year ago (at least in terms of coverage) and will make an immediate impact in Dallas.

As for the trade, I’m ok with teams trading up for players when they believe they’re one or two pieces away from contention. The Cowboys have overhauled their secondary this offseason, fixing the only glaring weakness on the roster.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Cowboys 1 Comment

How Buccaneers free agent moves affect draft plans

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the most active teams in free agency thus far. But will any of these moves affect their draft strategy?

With the 5th pick the Bucs are likely to target one of the top two players expected to be on the board, Morris Claiborne or Trent Richardson.

Obviously their recent moves won’t affect anything if Richardson is their choice. LeGarrette Blount is still on the roster, but there’s nothing wrong with having two starting-caliber running backs and Richardson is the type of talent that is tough to pass up.

If the Bucs had been entertaining the idea of drafting Claiborne, however, the addition of Eric Wright may lead them in another direction.

By no means should Wright be viewed as an elite cornerback, or even on the same level as Claiborne as an incoming rookie. However, the Bucs gave Wright a substantial five-year contract with $15M guaranteed, indicating that their front office thinks more highly of him than the rest of the league (and definitely more than the fan bases in Cleveland and Detroit).

I certainly wouldn’t endorse passing on Claiborne due to the acquisition of Wright, but it shouldn’t come as a shock if the Bucs now view their cornerback situation as settled – especially if they can talk Ronde Barber into sticking around for another year.

[polldaddy poll=6044463]

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Buccaneers 5 Comments

Buccaneers Offseason Priority: fix the secondary

The Tampa Buccaneers have holes everywhere you look, but one glaring need stands above the rest.

Based on ProFootballFocus.com’s grading system, 11 of the 12 Buccaneers defensive backs to see the field in 2011 performed below average, the lone exception being former 1st-round pick Aqib Talib. But Talib has his own issues off the field, and who knows how long the new coaching staff will put up with his antics. Additionally, the two veterans of the group – Ronde Barber and Sean Jones – are set to become free agents.

If possible, the Bucs should wipe the slate clean and bring in a brand new batch of defensive backs. Realistically, they should aim to bring in at least one veteran free agent and add some prospects in the draft.

The best case scenario on draft day would be for Morris Claiborne to fall to them at No. 5. He would immediately give the Bucs a true No. 1 cornerback, allowing them to gradually fill in the holes around him.

If Claiborne is gone, things get more complicated. While there should be a number of quality prospects available at the beginning of Round 2, none would have a dramatic immediate impact. The Bucs would be left to chose one of two paths: select a guy with the upside to develop into a shutdown corner (Stephon Gilmore for example) or add a more polished product who can contribute immediately, but may have less long-term upside (such as Chase Minnifield).

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Buccaneers Comments Off

Should I stay or should I go?

Andrew Luck – QB – Stanford
Luck stated before the season that his junior year would likely be his last in Palo Alto, and it’s a wise decision. He has very little to gain by sticking around, especially if his top offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin bolt for the NFL as well. Decision: Go

Barley's stock could soar in 2012

Matt Barkley – QB – USC
This is going to be a tough decision for Barkley. He could be the second quarterback off the board, but he could also experience a draft day fall. Landry Jones, Robert Griffin and Ryan Tannehill are also 1st-round possibilities who could leap-frog Barkley during the offseason. If he sticks around he could be the No. 1 pick in 2013.
Decision: Stay

Morris Claiborne – CB – LSU
It will be tough for Claiborne’s stock to get any higher. If he sticks around for another year he may not even be the best draft-eligible cornerback on his own team in 2012 (Tyrann Mathieu will be a junior next year). This should be an easy decision for the potential top-five pick. Decision: Go

Alshon Jeffery – WR – South Carolina
It’s been a somewhat disappointing season for Jeffery, which normally means a player should stick around. But with South Carolina’s shaky quarterback play there’s no reason to believe 2012 will be any better. It’s time to move on. Decision: Go

Dwayne Allen – TE – Clemson
This is a weak class for tight ends, and Allen may be tempted to leave as he will be considered the top prospect at the position by many. However, Clemson has taken major strides as a program this year and will enter 2012 as a dark-horse title contender. Allen could further boost his stock with another solid season as one of Tajh Boyd’s go-to weapons. Decision: Stay

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off

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 Comments Off

Saturday draft notes

- Potential top-10 pick Jerel Worthy of Michigan State needs to keep his emotions in check. He wasn’t shy about sharing his hatred for Michigan this past week – which is fine – but he clearly let it effect his play on the field. Worthy played out of control at times, and was called for at least one penalty (jumping offside and knocking down a Michigan lineman in the process). This isn’t something that will effect his draft stock, but it is something coaches and GMs may want to discuss with him during his pre-draft interviews.

- Boom Herron had a big game for Ohio State in his return from his suspension. He’s probably a 3rd or 4th round prospect because he lacks the elite size and speed to really stand out, but I like his chances of contributing at the next level. He’s patient, has great vision and is a surprisingly tough runner between the tackles considering his size. He’s sort of a cross between Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Forsett.

- Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus had a nice game against Ohio State. Mike Adams was his toughest test of the year, and Mercilus beat him a few times with a variety of moves. He’s quick off the snap, but also showed that he had the strength to fight past Adams even when he didn’t beat him off the snap.

- As for Adams, it was a fairly disappointing performance. He has as much talent as any lineman in this class, but he just looks too soft at times. He seems to lack the mean streak necessary to dominate. He was also called for a costly penalty late in the 4th quarter which helped keep Illinois in the game.

- We have to wait another year before Tyrann Matthieu is draft-eligible, but Morris Claiborne could come out this year and he is looking like a potential top-15 pick. He does a great job turning to play the ball, rather than strictly reacting to the receiver. He made another nice play today against Tennessee where he essentially became the receiver, and nearly returned the pick for a touchdown.

- Trent Richardson continues to improve his draft stock. If you missed his big run against Ole Miss check it out on youtube. He is every bit as good as Adrian Peterson was coming out of college and should be a top-10 lock.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off