There is less than a week until the 2016 NFL draft! Anticipation begins to build as the top two picks are now owned by different teams than they were originally. The Dallas Cowboys still sit at #4 overall, but the rival Eagles have traded up to the #2 spot in the draft.
We will have you covered leading up to the draft right here on Inside The Star, and on Twitter @CowboysNation, but today is about looking back to the 2012 NFL draft.
In this draft, the Cowboys moved up to acquire a certain defensive back out of LSU. Let’s take a closer look at the team’s most recent 6th overall pick…
Claiborne was a star in the SEC at Louisiana State from 2009 to 2011. In his final season, he would be named the country’s best defensive back by winning the Jim Thorpe Award. Claiborne was also a unanimous first team All-American this year, while earning all SEC honors as well.
He would enter the draft as many analysts’ top corner, flying up draft boards after starting off his junior season as a second to third round talent. Morris was expected to be drafted anywhere in the top 10, potentially as high as 4th overall to the Vikings.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III would come off the board with picks #1 and #2 respectively, followed by the Browns grabbing Trent Richardson at #3. Minnesota passed on Claiborne to draft tackle Matt Kalil out of USC, and he slipped past the Jaguars with the next pick when they opted to select WR Justin Blackmon.
This left Claiborne still available for the Saint Louis Rams at #6 overall. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys came calling for the pick, and swapped their first rounder (14 overall) with the Rams to draft the LSU product. Dallas also gave up their 2nd round pick, which the Rams traded to the Chicago Bears later on.
Claiborne started his rookie season at corner for the Dallas Cowboys despite missing OTAs due to injury. He would deal with some more nagging injuries throughout the year, but start 15 games for the 8-8 Cowboys. He would record his first career interception in a week 6 win against the Carolina Panthers on the road.
More injuries would continue to get to Claiborne entering his second season in 2013, as he added on some weight in preparation to build off of his rookie campaign. A dislocated shoulder in the season opener restricted Claiborne, who would stay on the field but begin to lose snaps to Orlando Scandrick.
Things were trending down for the defensive back that started his NFL career with so many expectations. They would only go further south in 2014, as Claiborne stormed out of the team’s facility in September following the loss of his starting job. Claiborne started just 7 games the previous season, and would start only 3 in 2014 – again suffering injuries that put him on the injured reserve in week 4.
Morris Claiborne had one season left on his deal in Dallas, and fans were already through with the injury-prone and often-burned corner. Instead, Claiborne seemingly defied all odds and rehabbed ahead of schedule from his injuries to start 11 games.
Not only was Claiborne back on the field with some consistency, but he was a much improved corner that finally lived up his draft status.
Claiborne’s 2015 campaign earned him a new one-year deal coming in to 2016:
The following players have also been selected with the 6th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys:
Lee Roy Jordan, LB, 1963
For more on Jordan’s 11 year career with the Cowboys, click here to read his “Countdown to Kickoff” profile from Inside The Star Staff Writer RJ Ochoa – naming him the greatest player to wear #55 in team history.