We spent a lot of time here at BTB in the run up to the draft examining prospects who the Dallas Cowboys had brought in for pre-draft visits. It was a solid strategy given past preference for drafting players they had brought to the Ranch. Turns out, they went a totally different direction. Most of us were shocked, but generally pleased, by the move to get Claiborne, but the player himself was as shocked as we were.
"I was shocked," Claiborne said. "They didn't even talk to me."
He may have been shocked, but his family was elated.
It was welcome news. Claiborne said his family is full of Cowboys fans, and he cried when he heard he was drafted by them.
I guess there is crying in football.
CBS Sports rated the move among the 10 biggest surprises of the first round.
8. Dallas Cowboys Cowboys trade up for Morris Claiborne: The Cowboys have been linked to an SEC defensive back as the draft approached but it was with Alabama safety Mark Barron rather than a cornerback. With the Cowboys obviously gearing up to defend the three and four receivers sets taking over the NFL, the addition of Claiborne, along with free agent addition Brandon Carr gives Dallas a secondary that could be frightening.
A secondary that could be frightening, and in a good way. Not frightening to Cowboys fans, but to other teams! Now that would be a shocking change.
If the Cowboys had no pre-draft interest in Caliborne, how did they end up drafting him? Turns out he was the one player they thought about trading up for, but they never thought he would drop down to number six. Once he did, they were surprised when the Rams only asked for the second round pick. When they did that, the Cowboys pounced. ESPN Dallas has a good breakdown of the mechanics of the trade.
Turns out the Cowboys knew all about Claiborne even though they didn't really talk to him. (You should click the link to read the whole Peter King story).
So why did the Cowboys, with no personal contact, feel so good about Claiborne? "We have an impeccable relationship, our scouts and coaches do, with LSU coaches,'' said Jones. "We felt we knew everything about him.''
Jones said the LSU coaches told Dallas scouts Claiborne had no issue with learning the defense or adjusting when the need arose. And not that a 20-minute conversation on draft night can prove much about intelligence, but Claiborne showed little evidence of an awful [Wonderlic] test score when he met with reporters Thursday night. Affable and humbled by the pick, he said he was hurt when followers on Twitter made fun of his low score.
So about that Wonderlic score. The 4 out of 50 that had people buzzing when it was leaked? Claiborne has a honest, comical, defiant and down-right-entertaining answer for that.
"They say it's an IQ test. I came to the combine for football. I looked at the test, and wasn't any questions about football. I didn't see no point in the test. I'm not in school anymore. I didn't complete it. I only finished 15 or 18 questions."
Ha! Guess there's not much more to say than that. Andrew Sharp at SB Nation had this commentary on Claiborne's answer.
God that's awesome. There's something pretty disturbing about the Wonderlic, in general--where college-aged kids take confidential IQ tests and if any of them struggle, their scores inevitably become public within 72 hours of the combine, sportswriters make jokes for years, and on and on.
So yeah, a top 10 player saying "I'm not in school anymore" and walking away is pretty much the greatest response to the Wonderlic in the history of the NFL combine. He went 6th overall to Dallas Thursday night, and IQ aside, Morris Claiborne's clearly got the swagger you're looking for in a shutdown corner.
He does have swagger, and is convinced he can help the Cowboys.