In all the excitement over Pick 6 Mo Claiborne, it would be wise to remember that the Cowboys had already acquired a top-flight cornerback in Brandon Carr. He may be the more important acquisition, at least this year.
On day one of the 2012 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys made the surprise trade to nab Morris Clairborne. Projected as the best defensive player of this year's class, he has been the focus of a great deal of the talk and speculation about the coming season among Cowboys fans. His fellow draftees and the very intriguing group of UDFAs that the team had at the roookie minicamp have taken up most of the rest of our attention.
Lost in all this is the fact that by then the Cowboys had already acquired one of the best cornerbacks in the business in Brandon Carr, the biggest free agent signing for the team this offseason. The former Kansas City Chiefs player had already all but guaranteed that Dallas would see much better corner play. In the long run, Mo certainly has the potential to be an even better defender than Brandon. But that is in the long run. Right now, Pick 6 has yet to participate fully in an NFL practice as he recovers from some needed repair to some tendons, much less prove himself in a game. Carr has a full and very impressive resume. Claiborne's ceiling is sky high. Carr's floor may be better than anything we have seen on the Cowboys for some time.
That is what I call a win-win situation.
This really came home to me in a video Bryan Broaddus has up on the official Cowboys website. Bryan, who I happen to think is a really good hire by the mothership, goes over the expected top four cornerbacks for this season. It just illustrates that the Dallas secondary is going to be an entirely new kind of beast this year.
Some good stuff after the jump.
If you want to get straight to the good stuff, go to about the 2:00 mark on the video. Broaddus breaks down some Carr highlights and shows how he plays press coverage. This is a key for his role on the Cowboys, because press coverage is the name of the game in Rob Ryan's scheme. With both Carr and Claiborne, Rob and Jerome Henderson are set to turn the secondary into a very dangerous place for opposing receivers and quarterbacks.
He includes a few of the college highlights for Pick 6 earlier in the video, but those are, after all, college highlights. He is able to focus on Carr to illustrate how press coverage is supposed to work because he is playing against NFL competition.
And not just any competition. Broaddus pulled up a highlight reel of Carr covering Calvin Johnson. Highlights, shutting down Megatron. Just stop for a moment and think about that. He went up against one of the most dangerous, most physically intimidating receivers in the game, and he came up with several highlight plays where Calvin was just taken out of the game.
Highlights are one thing, and as I remember, Megatron and the Lions had a better year than Carr's Chiefs. I went back and pulled up the box score for that game, which turned out to be a case of the Chiefs being led to the slaughter. And Johnson did score two touchdowns. But his total line for the day was 3 catches for 29 yards, on 7 targets. Calvin was the fifth receiver in terms of receiving yards, and Jahvid Best had twice as many rushing yards as Megatron had catching the ball.
That looks like a pretty good job of taking someone out of a game. It also proves that one outstanding defensive back cannot shut a team down.
So how great is it that Carr gets to line up with Mo Claiborne, Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick? That's a college superstar, a player who has lit it up in the past, and another who should be able to play his natural position this year instead of being forced out of the slot due to injuries. This is just one of the units on the Cowboys where the upgrade gained through new players is expected to lead to better play out of the veterans from last year. And it is likely to have beneficial impact for the entire team, since it should give the pass rush a second or so more to get to the quarterback, and it is almost certain to cut down on the fourth quarter collapses that we came to dread in 2011.
I strongly believe that the trade up to get Claiborne was nothing short of brilliant. But right now, I think that Brandon Carr is the single biggest acquisition the Cowboys have made for the entire offseason. He gives Ryan and Henderson a skilled and talented player that should fit easily into their scheme. And Pick 6 could not have a better teacher and mentor to work with. I think Morris Claiborne is going to be a terror for opposing quarterbacks very soon after the start of the season.
I think Brandon Carr starts terrorizing one Eli Manning very early in the game on September 5.