2012 NFL Draft: Cowboys Selection of Claiborne Makes Secondary a Strength

Peter MatarazzoContributor IApril 26, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Morris Claiborne (R)from LSU holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #6 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

In a stunning draft night move, the Dallas Cowboys traded up from the 14th pick to sixth overall to select Morris Claiborne of LSU. The move cost the Cowboys their second-round pick, which is 45th overall, but to be able to select the best corner in the draft was worth the price.

Claiborne has the elite athleticism, size and speed to be a true shut-down corner in the NFL. His ball-awareness and return ability just give him that added dimension that makes him a unique prospect.

Claiborne has excellent size and strength and displays ball-hawking skills that combine with great awareness. It's his unique skill set that make him a dangerous cornerback for any quarterback to challenge. His strength is not allowing much separation in man coverage, but his instincts and athleticism allow him to be effective in press and zone coverages.

For the Cowboys, this is an unbelievable acquisition that now makes what was a position of major weakness into a strength. The roster at cornerback for the Cowboys now reads Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. With six rounds to go, there could be another corner added to the mix along with the possibility of undrafted free agents or another veteran.

When you think of Claiborne's ability, and in watching his game footage, one word comes to mind: shutdown. That's what will be expected of him as he makes his presence felt in Rob Ryan's defense. Rob Ryan will now have the confidence to bring exotic fronts, looks and blitzes because of what this upgraded and vastly improved secondary brings to the table.

The addition of Claiborne is also a major sign for the future, as his selection ensures stability at the corner position should Mike Jenkins leave in free agency. Claiborne and Carr will be fixtures in the secondary for years to come. Overall, the move for Claiborne proved to be a major statement, as this Cowboys team looks to improve.

With pass-happy offenses and just playing in the NFC East alone, Claiborne will have a chance to make a major impact immediately, as he will get introduced to the NFL's elite. But when you move up to select a talent like Claiborne, the expectations should be nothing less.

Not only will this selection re-energize this team, particularly the defense, the Cowboys may finally be able to boast about having a top secondary. After watching some devastating losses in 2011, it's just what this team needs.