Measurements: 5′ 11 1/8″ 188 lbs.
Projection: Top 5 Overall
In One Word: Shutdown
Fantasy Value: 2nd CB in IDP leagues, starter in kick return leagues
Resembles: Patrick Peterson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Mock Predictions: Buccaneers (5th)
Morris Claiborne is considered one of the safest picks in the 2012 NFL Draft because it’s nearly unanimous that he has the elite athleticism, size and speed to be a shut-down corner on the professional level. Throw in excellent ball-awareness and plus return ability and you have a prospect who every NFL squad would love to have.
It’s no wonder that LSU has trotted out an elite defense for the past several season. At one point they were able to line up Claiborne and 2011 #5 overall pick Patrick Peterson in their secondary. These two combined to nearly shut-down the opposition’s ability to go down-field. Although Peterson went on to have a very good rookie season, it’s Claiborne who projects to be the better pro.
Claiborne has excellent size and strength. He’s shown brilliant ball-hawking skills and combined with superb situational-awareness, that makes him a dangerous cornerback for any passer to challenge. His strength was in not allowing much separation in man coverage, but his instincts and physicality allow him to be effective in bump-and-run and zone coverages.
As solid as he was in coverage, Claiborne is also a good tackler who projects to shed blockers and be a good run-defender. He’s drawn favorable comparisons to former teammate Peterson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha and Champ Bailey.
It’s easy to praise Claiborne, but there are some small concerns. Although his height is good (just under 6′), some scouts are concerned that he is slight of frame and could use more bulk. Even though he was a solid kick returner at the collegiate level, it’s possible that he won’t be given the opportunity to make an impact on special teams at the pro level. In an effort to keep their proposed starting cornerback healthy, he may not be given the chance to return many kicks.
Then there’s the controversial score that Claiborne allegedly mustered on the Wonderlic test that is administered to all incoming prospects. If the “4” that he scored was accurate, it gives Claiborne the lowest score for any athlete in at least 12 years. Although most NFL people don’t put too much emphasis on these antiquated and somewhat irrelevant tests, it does make others ponder Claiborne’s intelligence and ability to decipher and decode complicated NFL schemes and terminology.
Considering how pass-heavy the NFL has become, there’s little doubt that and elite corner prospect like Morris Claiborne won’t be in high-demand in the top ten of the 2012 draft. His resume and performance have him solidly in the top five prospects in this draft and there’s little chance he will slip past the Cleveland Browns at four, or the corner-hungry Tampa Bay Bucs at five.
Senior Writer Gridiron Experts. 2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 26-year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School.