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Claiborne Pick Risky But Big



    It's not like the Dallas Cowboys and GM/owner Jerry Jones to stand pat in the NFL draft, which is why last year's draft was so un-Cowboy like, as the first time since 2003 that Dallas hadn't made a draft day trade.

    That streak ended at one year on Thursday night when the Cowboys shocked everyone by trading their 14th pick and their second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams for the No. 6 pick in the draft, a pick the Rams got from the Redskins, who traded up to No. 2 to take Robert Griffin III.

    With that pick, the Cowboys selected, by all accounts, the best defensive player in the draft in LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, a guy with the potential and scout grade to be a shutdown corner in the league for years to come.

    In this day and age with the advent of 3- and 4-wide receiver sets, a shutdown corner might be the most important position on the field other than the quarterback. The Cowboys not only added a quality cornerback in free agency (Brandon Carr) but now they've locked up Claiborne under the new rookie wage scale, which means they get him for a long time and for a very reasonable amount of cash.

    The big name out there for the Cowboys at No. 14 was Stanford guard David DeCastro, but guards aren't sexy first-round picks, and he fell to No. 21 where the Pittsburgh Steelers took him. So DeCastro at No. 14 couldn't have been seen as good value, as it piayed out.

    Essentially, the Cowboys lost their second-round pick for Claiborne. That's crucial, because starters can easily be, and often are found in the second round, but the Cowboys thought that highly of the LSU corner to get them a lockdown corner for the next 15 years.

    Claiborne was a first-team, unanimous all-american and was the Jim Thorpe Award winner, given to the nation's best defensive back.

    Was it risky to give up the possibility of drafting two starters as opposed to one when the Cowboys aren't one guy away from being a championship team? Absolutely. But down the road this move could pay dividends.

    Just look at last year, when the Cowboys' secondary was responsible for several double-digit leads blown in the fourth quarter on busted coverages and flat-out getting beat. Now, exit Terence Newman, who's now a Bengal, and it could mark the end of Michael Jenkins' Dallas stint.

    Hopefully for the Cowboys, it'll also mark the end of heartbreaking blown games.