The Dallas Cowboys made a huge splash in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by trading up to the No. 6 overall pick to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Dallas was in desperate need of solid cornerbacks after two horrific seasons by its secondary, but Claiborne doesn’t only want to cover receivers for the Cowboys – he wants to play receiver as well.
“I would love to be a two-way player,” Claiborne said. “If they gave me that chance to be able to go both sides of the ball I’ll love it and I won’t turn it down. I get in and give it 100 percent.”
Claiborne was asked about the possibility of playing a few snaps at receiver while appearing as a guest on ESPN Dallas 103.3-FM and gave the aforementioned response. Claiborne played quarterback and receiver at Fair Park High School in Shreveport, La., in addition to playing cornerback. As a senior in 2007, he scored 30 touchdowns while recording over 2,000 all-purpose yards, so he obviously knows what to do with the football when handling it.
However, the chance of him playing receiver in the NFL is slim to none as current Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett isn’t one to try such risky moves. In the mid-1990s, Garrett was a teammate of Cowboys Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who played some receiver under then-head coach Barry Switzer. While Switzer was simply a puppet head coach for Jerry Jones, he made moves like putting Sanders at receiver to draw more attention to America’s Team and sell tickets.
Garrett, on the other hand, is more of a no-nonsense coach like his first head coach with the Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson, although not nearly on the same level of greatness. While Claiborne’s 4.50 speed and superb athleticism would undoubtedly serve him well on the offensive side of the ball, that’s not where the Cowboys need work. Dallas has two stud receivers in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and two stud tight ends in Jason Witten and John Phillips. In other words, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has plenty of solid targets to which to throw the football.
On defense, however, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will make great use of Claiborne. The former LSU star should make an immediate impact on a Dallas secondary that was horrendous in 2011. That unit has since undergone a makeover with Terence Newman, Alan Ball and Frank Walker gone and Brandon Carr now in the fold.
Claiborne will play plenty alongside Carr and Mike Jenkins in 2012 before taking over as a full-time starter in 2013. His ability to run with the football will likely be utilized on special teams returning kicks and punts, so Claiborne will get his chance to show off his offensive skills. However, playing Claiborne on offense is not something Dallas should consider. Jones may want to sell tickets, but winning is the best way to do that and playing Claiborne at cornerback and only cornerback is the best way to win.