The Dallas Cowboys made one of the memorable trades of the first round, sending their 14th pick and a second-rounder to the Rams for the right to select No. 6 overall. It was a bold move, and one that left them with an elite player at a key position — LSU CB Morris Claiborne.
In a wacky first day of the NFL Draft, this was old-school Jerry Jones being his usual wacky and bold self. This will be one that will be talked about for years. But the surprising thing was reaction from the Cowboys from a value standpoint.
In short, they kinda feel like they fleeced the Rams. Sure, St. Louis is Need City. But not this bad. Anyway, listen to Cowboys VP Stephen Jones talk after the news conference.
“We said, ‘Well, what we do we need to do to come up?” Stephen Jones recounted. “And the (Rams) said, ‘We may not need as much as we normally would.‘ “
If you look at the draft value chart — right here — Jones said it really should’ve been a second and a fourth to move up those eight spots. And he’s right with the math. The rookie wage scale may change things… But anyway, why was it so cheap?
Jones wasn’t sure. But they feel like they got a special player out of it.
“Maybe they just were wanting to accumulate some picks,” Jones said. “And maybe who they were after, they didn’t feel like they needed to be that high. I don’t know. I can’t answer that other than, we thought that was pretty interesting. Of course, when we went through it one more time, then we were really interested. There was one guy we would go up for and that was it. Other than that, we were keeping our picks.“
When Claiborne made it to four, Jerry Jones was on the phone with him. When Jacksonville traded up, the Cowboys knew it. But they had to make sure the blockbuster was still on. And that point, the Rams tried to squeeze a little more out of it.
“We didn’t know for sure they’d do the trade,” Stephen Jones said. “Still. All the trades are contingent on getting them done. We called and said, ‘OK, we’ll do it. And they tried to sweeten it a little bit. (Laughs). But that wasn’t the deal. And that’s what we did.“
Courtesy: Ian Rapoport | NFL
02:28 – What will former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne bring to the Cowboys defense?
NEW YORK — The Dallas Cowboys hadn’t been connected to LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne leading up to the NFL draft, but it makes perfect sense that they targeted him Thursday night.
Tony Romo often is viewed as the problem in Dallas, but that’s not even remotely fair. Romo is an above-average QB. Check out last season’s excellent stats for proof. What he — and the Cowboys — needed most was help on defense.
03:14 – The Dallas Cowboys select LSU CB Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys started that by dishing out $50 million on the first day of free agency to sign cornerback Brandon Carr away from the Kansas City Chiefs. Now they pair him with Claiborne, the type of player capable of shutting down another team’s top receiver.
“Use the word elite, we think he is,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told The Associated Press. “I think he’s the most consensus pick and the most consensus move I can ever remember on our draft day.”
Claiborne spoke with NFL.com just after he was drafted and expressed amazement that the Cowboys took him, not to mention traded up from No. 14 to No. 6 to do it.
“I was shocked,” Claiborne said. “They didn’t even talk to me.”
It was welcome news. Claiborne said his family is full of Cowboys fans, and he cried when he heard he was drafted by them. Now he’s joining a loaded secondary.
With Mike Jenkins still under contract, the Cowboys now have a talented trio that quickly turns a team weakness into a strength.
“I know they sacrificed to come down to get me, but I feel like I’m worth it,” Claiborne told The AP. “I know my talents, I know what I’m able to do and feel like I can come in right away and get with the team, learn the system and compete.”
Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Jones loves trading up in the first round. He just did it again.
NEW YORK — It happens every year.
After months of studying players, talking with team officials and analyzing how the first round of the NFL draft might play out … it all changes in the last couple of days before the event begins.
Teams stop being so close to the vest with their information, partially to start trade conversations, but also because team meetings have concluded and franchises have finally zeroed in the players they deem worthy of multi-million dollar investments.
Last year, for example, it did not become apparent that four quarterbacks would be taken in the top 12 picks until the day before the draft. The Tennessee Titans ended up selecting Jake Locker and the Minnesota Vikings took Christian Ponder, despite their inconsistency and injury issues, respectively.
So, here’s the last-minute draft buzz making the rounds this year. A few items would’ve seemed highly unrealistic just one month ago. Some or none of this of this could come to fruition. This unpredictability is what makes the NFL draft so watchable.
• Minnesota takes CB Morris Claiborne at No. 3. If former NFL defensive back and current Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier gets his way, he and general manager Rick Spielman will throw out the idea of picking USC left tackle Matt Kalil to protect their first-round pick from 2011 (quarterback Christian Ponder). Claiborne gives them a chance to match up better with elite receivers in their division: Green Bay Packers’ star Greg Jennings, new Chicago Bears threat Brandon Marshall and, of course, Detroit Lions beast Calvin Johnson.
• South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore goes in the top 10. Whether it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars with the seventh pick or the Carolina Panthers at nine, a team may agree with Minnesota that the position is too important in today’s game to ignore. Six-foot-tall cornerbacks with 4.4 speed like Gilmore don’t grow on trees.
• The Philadelphia Eagles trade into the top 10 to pick a defensive tackle. Andy Reid and the Eagles moved up in the first round in 2003 (to get DE Jerome McDougle), 2004 (OT Shawn Andrews), 2009 (WR Jeremy Maclin) and 2010 (DE Brandon Graham). They have an extra second-round pick from the Kevin Kolb trade as ammunition, so look for a move to get a defensive tackle to rush the passer (Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox) and/or shore up the run defense (LSU’s Michael Brockers or Memphis’ Dontari Poe).
• The Dallas Cowboys make a move. In six of the past 10 drafts, the Cowboys have moved up or down in the first round; in two of the past four, they moved up to select cornerback Mike Jenkins (2008) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (2010). If they want safety Mark Barron, Cox (as a 3-4 defensive end), receiver Michael Floyd or Gilmore, they’ll make the call to get into the top 10. Jacksonville and Carolina are the two teams likely to say “yes” to trade offers with Dallas, Philadelphia or anyone else looking to be bold.
• Boston College LB Luke Kuechly goes higher than expected. Tampa Bay at No. 5, Jacksonville at 7, Carolina at 9 and Buffalo at 10 are all potential landing spots for the talented Mr. Kuechly. His NFL Scouting Combine workout proved he is athletic enough to run to the ball and make plays in coverage. Remember that Green Bay selected A.J. Hawk with the fifth overall pick in 2006 and Seattle picked Aaron Curry fourth in 2009, two linebackers considered “safe picks” early in the draft.
• Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower goes higher than expected. If the Chiefs can’t get Kuechly, then the 6-foot-2, 265-pound Hightower may be the perfect answer to play either inside next to Derrick Johnson or outside to be another pass-rush threat alongside Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. The versatility he showed while in Nick Saban’s multiple-front defense at Alabama makes him very intriguing to NFL teams running similar systems.
• Syracuse DE/OLB Chandler Jones comes off the board in the first 12 picks. Last year, people didn’t think Missouri DE/OLB Aldon Smith would go as high as No. 7, but the San Francisco 49ers picked him there and used him as an impact pass-rush specialist. (Smith posted 14 sacks last season.) Carolina (ninth pick), Buffalo (10) and Seattle (12) are all potential landing spots for the brother of Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones because of his genetic athleticism, size, length and upside.
• Brandon Weeden goes No. 22 to the Cleveland Browns. Assuming the Browns are not interested in taking Ryan Tannehill and that they think Weeden is a better future signal caller than Colt McCoy, they may just take him with their second first-round pick at No. 22, eliminating the risk that another quarterback-hungry team (Bills, Cardinals, Chiefs, Eagles) could trade ahead of them later in the first or early in the second round.
• Ole Miss LT/RT Bobby Massie is selected in the first round. The Steelers, Texans, Ravens and Giants could all use help at offensive tackle, and the long, athletic Massie’s potential to make the switch to left tackle might push him up boards. The slide of Ohio State tackle Mike Adams, potentially out of the first round, may also help Massie’s case.
• Midwestern State OG Amini Silatolu goes in the first round. Scouts were disappointed Silatolu could not participate at the Senior Bowl due to a hamstring injury, but his film (even against Division II competition) created enough buzz that the Steelers could select him with the 24th overall pick. Baltimore (29) and San Francisco (30) also need interior line help and could add the runner-up for the 2011 Gene Upshaw Award (the honor for the top Division II offensive lineman was won by Joe Long, brother of Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long).