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NFL Draft 2012: Claiborne to Dallas is a Wake Up Call for Other Cowboy DBs

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Morris Claiborne (R)from LSU holds up a jersey as he stands on stage 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
Danny WebsterAnalyst IIIApril 27, 2012

Back in March, I wrote a piece on why the Dallas Cowboys couldn't afford to skip out on drafting a defensive back in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, after passing on former Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara last year.

As we all know, last year's No. 9 overall pick for Dallas turned out to be Tyron Smith.

Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron both provided to be valuable options for the Cowboys when they would be on the clock with the No. 14 pick, and not many people expected them to make any earth-shattering moves and they would stand where they are.

Well, they definitely made an earth-shattering move in the first round of the draft on Thursday night.

And they addressed the secondary as well, and in the most shocking way possible—by selecting the best cornerback in the entire draft class.

A possible marriage between the Cowboys and LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne never crossed the lips of most mock-draft experts because, obviously, Claiborne would've been gone by the time Dallas would be on the clock.

In a draft that started with the first two picks already figured out, and trades that were happening left and right as the Twitter-verse was buzzing in excitement, Jerry Jones and company kept hinting they would keep all possible ideas in mind, but nothing was expected.

But when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost out any chance on bringing Trent Richardson to Florida after Cleveland's trade, and the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon eliminating any chance of the St. Louis Rams of drafting him, the Cowboys decided to swoop in and switch spots with the Rams.

When teams like the Browns and Vikings, who both could've used the best corner in the draft, passed on him, Dallas finally did something I've only seen them do a handful of times in the last decade—draft the best player available when it was their turn.

At 6'1" and 185 pounds, Claiborne is the type of cornerback that will get in your face and be physical with you up front, which is the kind of player that Rob Ryan wants in his defense. And it doesn't hurt when you come from an SEC powerhouse in LSU, either.

In today's day and age in the NFL, teams can never have enough corners, and Dallas now has four quality guys who could help most teams in the league—Claiborne, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and the newly-signed Brandon Carr.

When training camp starts it's more than likely that Carr will be the No. 1 guy on the depth chart at corner, and going out on a limb, Claiborne will be No. 2.

So now the drafting of the best DB this year means it's gut-check time for Jenkins and Scandrick to step up and play better than they've ever imagined in their careers. Jenkins continues to fight through nagging injuries and Scandrick has yet to become the late-round gem that the Cowboys hoped for.

In the final year of his rookie contract, Jenkins will have a great amount of pressure on himself to perform and possibly get back to Pro Bowl form like he was a few years ago. Scandrick signed a multiple-year extension last season and he's yet to prove if he clearly deserves that money.

Not only was drafting Claiborne a move to better the current state of the Cowboys, but it was also a wake-up call to the other guys on the depth chart that they need get going and become the kind of players that they're capable of being.

Otherwise, the last words that Jenkins and Scandrick may hear on their way out of Dallas, to use a famous line from Michael Irvin—"The Dallas Cowboys cannot use you."

 

What are your thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys moving up eight spots to grab Morris Claiborne at No. 6 overall? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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