Tuesday was a rough day for Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne.
In the morning owner Jerry Jones went on 105.3 FM radio in Dallas and admitted what has been apparent to the NFL world for a while: trading a 2nd-round pick to move up and draft Claiborne at No. 6 overall in 2012 NFL Draft was not worth it.
Jones phrased it in the kindest terms possible, but it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
“We’re not giving up on him at all. Is he what we had hoped for at this point when we drafted him with the sixth pick, gave up a pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No. But he’s going to be a good player,” he said.
A few hours later Claiborne lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick. According to Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas, the cornerback “angrily left the facility” and skipped a walk-through practice after he was told of the demotion.
It’s fair to say Claiborne is not the player the Cowboys thought they were getting when they picked him in 2012. Dallas’ pass defence ranked 25th out of 32 teams in DVOA in 2012, and 28th in 2013.
Claiborne has consistently struggled in coverage. In Week 3 he let up five catches on seven targets for 108 yards and two touchdowns, and even a game-sealing interception wasn’t enough to save his job.
The Cowboys gave up the No. 14 and No. 45 picks in the 2012 draft for Claiborne. The No. 14 pick turned out to be Michael Brockers and, frustratingly for Cowboys fans, the No. 45 pick turned out to star Bears receiver Alshon Jeffrey.
While it’s easy to keep ripping on Claiborne for not living up to expectations, trades like these are a big reason Cowboys fans are frustrated with Jerry Jones. The data says that moving up in the NFL Draft is a losing strategy. The 14th and 45th picks combined are more valuable than the 6th pick. There’s a reason the league’s smartest team consistently trade down in the draft.
Jones gambled on a star cornerback, sacrificing valuable assets in the process, and it predictably didn’t work out.
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