You, me, and every other Cowboys fan had high hopes. High hopes for what former LSU standout corner Morris Claiborne had to offer when the Dallas Cowboys traded up to select him with the sixth overall selection in the 2012 draft. Since that time Mo has missed 21 of a possible 50 games, and when he has been able to answer the bell, Claiborne has been substantially less impressive than the hype that surrounded him as a draft prospect would lead you to expect. Of all the first-round draft selections made during the Jason Garrett era, only Claiborne is being discussed as a probable bust.
This year the team went back to the well and once again selected a fist-round cornerback in hopes of solidifying the defensive secondary. They also decided not to exercise their option to secure Claiborne's fifth-year of his contract. The writing is on the wall; for "Pick Six" this is the make or break year of his tenure in Dallas. The front office is insisting on seeing something that resembles a first-round defensive back before they invest any more in #24.
Claiborne feels the same way. Nobody is more frustrated with his performance and health issues than is the player himself. The Cowboys have not given up on Mo, nor has he given up on himself, but he knows that now is the time. The NFL is a what have you done for me lately business, and the fourth year corner knows he has not done much; he was quite honest and forthcoming when he admitted that he would have not picked up the option year either.
"I wasn't expecting for that [the option year] to happen, Why would you put so much in a person that you don't know where he'll be standing? If I was on the other side, I wouldn't have done that. It's just one of those things. It's a business. I approach it that way.I got to go put in some work. I got to go make somebody want me. I don't want nothing to be just given to me." - Morris Claiborne
It is good news that Claiborne understands the reality of the situation. That has not always been the case. Last season he packed his things and left the Valley Ranch facilities after learning that he would lose his starting slot after a dismal outing against the St. Louis Rams. Perhaps a dose of reality has set in and Mo will arrive ready to fight for his Cowboys life. He says he is ahead of schedule on his rehab and that he is ready to compete for playing time. Mo is ready to prove the naysayers wrong, In a recent interview with Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News he had the following to say:
"... I hear a lot of stuff. I hear what people say, I see what people write and I know that's not me. I just want to show them."
I, for one, like what Mo is saying, but actions speak louder than words. That is especially true in this case. Morris Claiborne has the physical skills to be a solid cornerback in the National Football League. He may never live up to the billing as the best DB prospect since Deion Sanders, but he doesn't have to be all that. Mo needs to lace the cleats on, go out and fight to the best of his ability, and follow the Garrett mantra of stacking one good day on top of another. If he does that, chances are that he will earn a decent second contract.
Will that be in Dallas or will it be elsewhere? That is going to depend on what #24 delivers this season. The onus is on him.