Dallas Cowboys: Is it time to start believing in Morris Claiborne again?


For fans of the Dallas Cowboys, the drafting of cornerback Morris Claiborne is a sore subject. To this point, the former first round selection’s career in Dallas has been beyond disappointing. When injuries haven’t sidelined him, Claiborne play on the field as a professional has only been a shadow of his college days. But now, the fourth-year corner claims to be the healthier than he’s ever been in Dallas. Is it time to start believing in Morris Claiborne again?

For more pessimistic fans, the answer is a quick no. Until Claiborne redeems himself on the field, he’ll remain one of the biggest draft bust in franchise history in their eyes. And who could blame them? The Cowboys traded up in the 2012 NFL Draft to obtain the young, ball-hawking cornerback out of LSU sixth overall. In order to move up eight spots in the first round, the Cowboys traded away their first round pick (14th overall) and their second round selection (45th overall) in that year’s draft to the St. Louis Rams.

More from The Landry Hat

To add insult to Claiborne injuries and poor play throughout his time in Dallas, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones revealed later that the team intended to draft All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner with their 45th overall selection that year. And they would have gotten Wagner, as the Seattle Seahawks didn’t draft him until two picks after Dallas’ selection in the second round. Wagner was named to the Pro Bowl last year, and helped the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl in 2013.

Regardless of the what ifs, Claiborne is the reality for Cowboys fans. And reality is often harsh. The fact the 25-year old cornerback has missed a total of 19 regular season games due to injury in the past three years confirms this. And the player Dallas’ scouts touted as the highest graded since Deion Sanders has a pathetically low career interception total of three.

Last season, Claiborne’s suffered a season-ending, non-contact knee injury, a torn patellar tendon, against the New Orleans Saints in Week Four. During the offseason, Dallas refused to pick up the corner’s fifth-year option, making him a free agent after this year. Rehabbing through all the offseason programs, Claiborne was able to start practicing during training camp. And so far, he seems to have played well. Although the Cowboys elected not to play him in their preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers last Thursday.

"“I don’t have no bad complaints about how I’m playing from the coaching staff. Everybody seems to be pleased with where I’m at,” Claiborne told ESPN. “I’m pleased with where I’m at, and whether I take a preseason snap or not, I’ll be ready to play for that home opener.”"

Whether or not Claiborne’s injuries are a thing of the past or not is one thing. His poor play on the field is a bigger concern. In my eyes, Claiborne has done next to nothing towards proving he even belongs in the NFL, much less him being worthy of the sixth overall selection in 2012. Fortunately for the Cowboys, head coach Jason Garrett feels much differently about the fourth-year player.

"“Mo Claiborne is going to be a good player in this league. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Garrett told ESPN this week. “Anybody that’s been around him I think believes that and he’s working hard to get there. Injuries have been a part of his progression here so far. I have been around players in my career that have had similar starts to their careers and gotten themselves healthy and gotten themselves stronger and ready to play at this level. They’ve had really good careers after that.”"

It’s obviously the Cowboys believe in Claiborne. really, what choice do they have? And the fact this is a contract year for him could be enough motivation to spur change. But the old adage “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” seems to be much more appropriate here. It’s now or never for Claiborne to prove he’s not one of the biggest mistakes this franchise has ever made.

Next: Dallas Cowboys unknown player shines in preseason opener