This is heresy to write on a football website, but I’m already used to being an outsider. So what do I care? But I don’t watch the NFL Draft. I don’t. Ever since I had a satori two years ago and realized it’s nothing more than the elaborate, tedious, interminable revealing of a list — similar to an awards show –, I’ve gone on with my life during draft weekend. Looking at LOL Cats. Poking people on Facebook. Burning pizzas in the oven. Taking a nap.
So I checked in to NFL.com at around 7:45 Central Thursday night and was astonished to see we had moved up to #6 and taken Morris Claiborne, cornerback from LSU. What?
To summarize my points so you can digest them and click back to your Farmville that’s by now loaded, Claiborne epitomizes “blue chip.” The trade was exemplary. My sole concern is we didn’t use our first round pick to shore up one side of our inadequate trenches.
Unlike our past cornerbacks who didn’t look for the ball, tracking the pigskin in flight is one of Claiborne’s strengths. He also has fluid hips and patterns his game off of Darelle Revis. Although some have whispered concerns about his tackling ability, Claiborne chucks well at the line of scrimmage and plays great man-to-man coverage, a skill necessary for Rob Ryan’s scheme. Claiborne also has tremendous skill as a returner. And we have Patrick Peterson to thank for this since it was he who encouraged Claiborne to switch from wide receiver to cornerback.
Concerns about Claiborne’s low Wonderlic score were quelled by his admissions to blowing off the test. He comes across as a respectful, diligent rookie still open to deference. His family is replete with Cowboys supporters, so I’m sure the traditions and history of this franchise are well engrained in his psyche. Furthermore, Claiborne is a Jim Thorpe Award winner. Now, while golem like Roy Williams, Terence Newman, Derrick Strait, etc. have won the award, please don’t forget that Deion Sanders, Charles Woodson, and Patrick Peterson were all award winners too.
Some fans kvetched about giving up a second round pick to move up from 14 to 6 to take Claiborne, and rightfully so. However, as Bill Polian, the GM without portfolio on BSPN, and other pundits have stated, typically the move from 14 to 6 involves ceding a fourth rounder. The Cowboys didn’t have to give up one of their two fourth round picks to move up to 6. Furthermore, the Cowboys didn’t make this trade because Jerry Jones likes to “make a splash” in the draft. I mean, if you want to believe that, you can be a writer who looks like Billy Bob Thornton and make believe you’re a draft expert that didn’t put out a mock this year. Anyway, the Rams called the Cowboys. Jerry Jones and company was content to hold forth at 14 and take LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers. That’s almost like the Vikings in 1989 approaching the Cowboys with their future for Herschel Walker. After further review, I think the trade up to snag Claiborne was a good trade.
Can you name the Giants’ playmaking cornerback? It’s all about the trenches, and it always will be. Even though the rules are protecting quarterbacks and skewing things towards the offense, it’s still all about collapsing or protecting the pocket. With our first round pick, I really wanted to take David DeCastro or a talented defensive lineman. Some fans are spinning the Claiborne pick to say his coverage skills, combined with Brandon Carr’s, will give Ware and Spencer enough time to get to the quarterback. Then they come out with a stat that we were seventh in the league in sacks. Never mind that was predominantly DeMarcus Ware. The fact is we need more pressure in the pass rush, and one man can’t do it alone. Maybe someday I’ll write an article on how opposing offensive lines basically have the Jordan Rules for DeMarcus Ware.
In my final analysis, Morris Claiborne won’t be a bust. The trade was a smart one. My only concern is we’re still only 8-8 caliber along the offensive and defensive lines.
THIRD WAY: Tyrone Crawford
The scout who tries to affect Roy Orbison on BSPN ranked defensive end Tyrone Crawford as 71st. Our former head of scouting, Gil Brandt, had him ranked 81st. Frank Coyle of Draft Insiders Digest had him ranked 75th. In other words, this Boise State via Bakersfield College product is well thought of and not a bad pick. He’s expected to be a pass rushing specialist, and has already stated that he hates losing. Therefore, he’s got the right character to be a Jason Garrett player. He’s got to help create pressure, because Ware can’t do it all.
I’m pleased thus far with the Cowboys’ draft selections. I think the commonality is we’ve selected character guys. Remember my first post about building a bold peasantry? Certainly Claiborne is going to be a prince someday, but for now he’s in the peasantry along with Tyrone Crawford and the rest of our picks. They don’t have that entitlement mentality and seem thankful for the opportunity. That’s who we need on this team, and that’s the basis of a Jason Garrett ball club. If their talent may not be there (which I doubt because our scouting department has gotten off the markers and glue), at least their hearts will be. That’s what has been missing for the past 16 years.
Enjoy rounds 4 through 7. I’ll be taking a nap.