IRVING, Texas – When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff attempts to predict if this is the year Morris Claiborne makes the jump into a star corner and lives up to the draft hype after going No. 6 overall to the Cowboys in 2012.
11) Is this the year Mo Claiborne lives up to the hype?
Rowan Kavner: He's had two interceptions in his first two seasons, so he'd probably need about seven or eight this year to meet the expectations people placed upon him when the Cowboys moved up to grab him. So, will he do that? Probably not, but I do think he can reach the three or four interception mark this year. For Claiborne, it's always been about health, or a lack thereof. He tends to enter a season with some injury or another and never really gets a full offseason or preseason, which carries over to the rest of the year. If he can stay on the field during training camp and enter his third year as healthy as he's been during his time in the NFL, he has a good shot to defy a lot of the critics, even if that doesn't mean he lives up to the initial hype when the Cowboys selected him.
David Helman: It's hard to define the phrase "lives up to the hype" with him. At this point, when you consider where the Cowboys took Claiborne, what they gave up to get him and how much he has struggled since then, I'm not sure he can live up to some of the expectations set for him. I don't think Morris Claiborne is going to make the Pro Bowl or lead the league in interceptions this year, which are the things many people demand if he isn't going to be labeled a bust. I do, however, think he's going to manage to stay healthy this season, he's going to get to play more often in man coverage, which plays to his strength, and he should just generally be more confident. I think 2014 is the year Claiborne proves he can be a competent, quality starter in the NFL, even if he doesn't take the league by storm. Whether that qualifies as "living up to the hype," I guess is open to interpretation. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman: I think he plays better, but I don't see him doing enough to satisfy the critics who are waiting for the No. 6 overall player in that draft. I mean, think about Terence Newman. He was a pretty good player for his entire career. But when you're drafted fifth overall like he was, you're expecting Champ Bailey. That never happened and therefore, he never had a chance to be fully appreciated. Right now, the Cowboys would love for Claiborne to get into Newman's neighborhood. And you have to be a starter to do that. So that's his first step. I think Claiborne will be a starter this year and I think he'll play much better. But he's got a long, long way to go to actually live up to the hype. He may never get there but it doesn't mean he's a bad player.
Bryan Broaddus: The most unfortunate situation for Mo Claiborne when he was drafted with that sixth overall selection is that it was made known that he was the second best player on the draft board that year and the comparisons by Jerry Jones to Deion Sanders. Claiborne was an outstanding player at LSU but to compare him to Sanders was not accurate, nor fair to him. What should be noted is this is the first time that Claiborne has come into a training camp with the Cowboys where he is completely healthy and he has a chance to really compete. From what I have been able to observe in these practices is that his movement is back to the levels he played at in college. He looks comfortable and confident. Rod Marinelli is playing to his strengths of man coverage which is a real plus. Hype or not, he knows exactly what is on the line for him in 2014.