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Ellis: Claiborne Open To Playing WR, But . . .

Within hours of drafting him, the Cowboys had already dared to compared Morris Claiborne to Deion Sanders. Since then, people have been trying to draw parallels.

Like Sanders when he was coming out of Florida State, Claiborne has shutdown ability and great hands, with the ability to go up and snatch the ball at its highest point. There may be only a few guys with more natural pass-catching skills on the Cowboys - Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant the first to come to mind.

It's that lack of depth at the receiver position that has some wondering if Claiborne could even be a two-way player, like Sanders. He played both receiver and defensive back in high school, later throwing 30 touchdowns as a senior quarterback. When Claiborne arrived in Baton Rouge, they originally played him at receiver before moving him to defense.

Unlike Sanders or Charles Woodson or some other top-rated corners, Claiborne never lined up at wideout in college. Still, the idea came up during an interview Claiborne conducted on KESN 103.3-FM in Dallas this week, and like pretty much all 253 players in this draft, Claiborne is saying he will do whatever the team wants.

"I would love to be a two-way player," Claiborne said on the Galloway & Company show. "If they gave me that chance to be able to go both sides of the ball I'll love it and I won't turn it down. I'd get in and give it 100 percent."

Though Claiborne might well have made it to the NFL as a receiver had he played it throughout his LSU career, his lack of experience figures to limit him to defense now that he's in the pros.

Very, very few players ever have the opportunity to go both ways anymore, unless they play in New England. The same idea was tossed around when Terence Newman was drafted fifth overall by the Cowboys in 2003, and though he always went through pat-and-go warmups with the receivers, he logged only a couple plays on offense in his career. Newman got one carry on a reverse, in 2005, picking up four yards.

Likewise, the Cowboys boasted about how much of a factor Newman would be in the return game, and while he did have situational return duties at times, he actually returned only 38 punts in a nine-year career.

The team has talked about Claiborne's ability as a return man, but he did it only 19 times in his three years at LSU. The Cowboys, too, will be most interested in getting his best at cornerback, though he could return on a situational basis.

So, while Claiborne would surely be happy to follow in Primetime's footsteps, don't expect him to being playing "both" very often at all. 

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