Dallas Cowboys 2013 Breakout Candidate: Morris Claiborne

By Jesus Flores
Morris Claiborne
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys traded up to take cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, they believed he could be a game changer.

In 2012, Claiborne started 15 games as a rookie and finished the season with 64 tackles, one interception, one fumble forced, two fumbles recovered and eight passes defended. Despite having an up-and-down season, by his own account, Claiborne showed flashes of greatness and at times looked every bit the shutdown corner the Cowboys thought they were getting when they drafted him.

The only bad game that I recall Claiborne having was against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10, when Riley Cooper took Claiborne’s lunch money. Claiborne ended up getting flagged five times in that game.

In a pass-happy league, Claiborne played well in coverage, evident by his only being targeted 69 times in over 900 defensive snaps. He did, however, struggle in run support, particularly near the end of the season.

This offseason Claiborne has bulked up from 185 lbs. to 193 lbs. because with the defense changing from the 3-4 to the Tampa Cover 2, he’s going to be required to make more plays in run support.

By nature of the Tampa 2 scheme, Claiborne will definitely see more targets come his way in 2013, which in turn will give him more opportunities to make plays on the ball. It’s not unreasonable to think that Claiborne could see upwards of 85 targets and because he’s going to be playing near the line of scrimmage more frequently; his tackle total should also go up.

In 2012, Claiborne showed that he had potential, in 2013, thanks to the scheme change; I think Claiborne will have a breakout season for the Cowboys. It wouldn’t surprise me if he led the team in interceptions; yeah he’s that good.

Jesus Flores is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @SSgtFlo1 or add him to your network on Google

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