Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) wears a shoulder harness as he motions to get the crowd louder against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports Cowboys Morris Claiborne Must Deliver in 2014

As Dallas Cowboys fans, we all know the struggles cornerback Morris Claiborne has had in his first two years in Dallas. Those issues are only intensified by the fact the Cowboys traded up in the 2012 NFL Draft to select the highly-touted, ball-hawking athlete from LSU in the first round. Entering his third season, many believe this could be Claiborne’s final chance to prove himself in order to stay off the trading block in 2015. And apparently, agrees.

In an article entitled The heat is on: Guys who must perform in 2014, NFL Media columnist Adam Schein listed Claiborne as one of nine NFL Players who need to step up their game in the upcoming regular season. Here’s what Schein had to say about the latest Cowboy on the hot seat:

“When Claiborne was coming out of college, I thought he was going to be fantastic. So did the Cowboys, who traded up to take him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s been adequate, at best, and most certainly not an elite corner. In his first two NFL seasons, Claiborne’s play has been spotty and he’s battled a bevy of injuries. Now, to be fair, I should note that Dallas’ defense was a complete mess last season, as I touched on earlier this week. I fault former coordinator Monte Kiffin. Cowboys COO Stephen Jones understandably pointed a finger at the front seven on my SiriusXM Radio show, “Schein on Sports.” But now, there’s a new coordinator and new players up front. This defense, which ranked 30th against the pass, can significantly improve in 2014, but Claiborne has to take that next step. I expect it to happen.”

Since being drafted sixth overall in 2012, Claiborne has amassed 81 total tackles, 14 passes defended and only two interceptions. Coming out of college, Dallas scouts had Mo ranked with the highest cornerback grade since Deion Sanders.  While at LSU, Claiborne recorded 95 tackles, 12 pass breakups and 11 interceptions in three years. He was awarded the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back his junior year.

But injuries have plagued Claiborne as a member of the Cowboys. He entered the NFL recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist, limiting his initial offseason training. Combine that fact with his alleged scoring of a four on his Wonderlic test meant Claiborne was behind the developmental eight-ball from the very beginning.  During his rookie training camp, Claiborne missed several practices due to a “minor” MCL sprain. It was at that time the Cowboys started to question his mental toughness and his ability to play through pain.

Knee issues followed Claiborne throughout his rookie campaign. He also suffered a concussion in mid-December in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. During the 2013 offseason, Claiborne committed to beefing up his injury-prone frame. He added eight pounds of muscle in anticipation of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme. But once again, a minor knee issue caused Claiborne to miss three weeks of training camp. But it was a hamstring injury that caused him to miss six games last season. When Mo did play, he struggled with a shoulder injury and eventually lost his starting role to veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

This offseason, Claiborne has had both shoulder and finger surgery. He claims to be feeling great and should be ready in time to participate in all of the Cowboys offseason programs. Based on past history, I wouldn’t hold your breath. If Claiborne can actually have one full, uninterrupted offseason of training, it’ll probably do wonders for his regular season game.

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  • Dodge city chef

    Please can you get at least three picks this year

    • David

      Id be happy with three PD’s…haha

  • Matty ice

    I see Claiborne showing up he was one of my favorite players coming out.. The talent and skills are there just waiting on him to put it together..

  • SmartThinking

    If he claims he’s injured once the hitting starts then we’ll know he can’t cope. That’s his release valve. Claiborne’s a classic head case – once his brain gets overloaded with those pesky decisions, his body just doesn’t know which way to go and we see that classic glassy-eyed “deer in the headlights” look.

    I’m not claiming he’s stupid but ….. well, yeah, I guess I am. Let’s call it “racked with indecision,” instead.

  • Old Frog

    First time I’ve heard or read, “the Cowboys began to question his mental toughness and abilitly to play through pain.” I’ve been saying that for awhile – that he doesn’t seem tough enough physically or emotionally; but I don’t recall hearing anyone on the staff confirming that sentiment. Let’s hope he pulls it together. Let’s also hope they pay more attention to the Wonderlic in the future. Anyone who has taken a sample of that test on line will realize any score less than a 10 should be a serious red flag.

    • LandryHat

      Added a link to the source in the story from Cowboys VP Stephen Jones questioning Claiborne’s mentality to play with minor injuries.

  • Juanito Juanito

    Morris exell in college, but cowboys play zone scheme, and he doesnt fit, becouse he is a press player in college

  • gmk2k

    Morris claiborne”s biggesf obstacle is to gind a way to stay healthy the rest will take of itself the talent n.ability is there on.all levels iy took took dez to his 3td season aswell

  • Bill Smith

    I blame our management for drafting players that never pan out here..Simple as that.

    • MercWithaMouth

      Drafting players that never really fit the scheme. I hear people say he fit Ryan’s scheme, but I recall way to many times seeing the CBs playing zone instead of man and press. Now, thats what Kiffin/Marinelli run as well. What ever happened to playing the strengths of your players?

  • ctcowboy1968

    Definitely a make or break year. It’s Miles Austin 2.0. Yeah, zone is not his forte, but he has to adapt. Frankly, both he and Carr are quite a disappointment. Obtained for Ryan’s system, but management changed that system. But the system isn’t the biggest issue for Mo, it’s that he can’t even stay on the field. As for Carr, he was just a major disappoint last year.