Former LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne is generally either the first or second defensive player off the board on most NFL mock drafts. However, is his pre-draft hype warranted? The answer is a resounding "yes."
Claiborne was "the other defensive back" on LSU's 2011 SEC Championship team that also included Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu. While Mathieu had a flair for the dramatic, Claiborne was as solid as a rock. As a junior, he finished 2011 second in the SEC in interceptions with six, despite being shied away from by opposing quarterbacks. His accolades read like a laundry list of defensive back greatness: 2011 winner of the Thorpe Award, 2011 consensus All-American, 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2011 first-team All SEC, and on, and on, and on.
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Claiborne improved upon his 4.47 40-yard dash time that he clocked at the NFL Scouting Combine by posting a 4.39 at LSU's pro day last Thursday. At 5'11", 190 lbs., Claiborne has the size to step in and be the cornerstone of an NFL secondary right away.
He also underwent surgery on Friday to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist that he suffered in LSU's 9-6 regular-season victory over Alabama. Two of his six picks in 2011 came after that game, so it didn't seem to bother him too much.
Whoever drafts Claiborne will be be getting a proven defender accustomed to being the centerpiece of a big-time secondary.
Don't be surprised to see the Cleveland Browns nab Claiborne with the No. 4 pick or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take him off the board at No. 5.