Claiborne with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015
|No. 21 – New York Jets|
|Date of birth:||February 7, 1990|
|Place of birth:||Shreveport, Louisiana|
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||192 lb (87 kg)|
|High school:||Shreveport (LA) Fair Park|
|NFL Draft:||2012 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 5, 2017|
|Player stats at PFR|
Morris Lee Claiborne (born February 7, 1990) is an American football cornerback for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country and was unanimously recognized as an All-American. He was selected by the Dallas Cowboys sixth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Claiborne was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He attended Fair Park High School in Shreveport, where he played for the Fair Park Indians high school football team. He was a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com. He played quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive back. As a senior, he had over 2,000 all purpose yards and 30 touchdowns as a quarterback.
Claiborne was also on the school's track & field team, where he competed as a sprinter. He won the 100 meters at the 2009 Louisiana Outdoor State Championships, with a career-best time of 10.76 seconds, and also ran the fourth leg on the 4 × 100 metres relay squad, helping them earn a first-place finish at 42.06 seconds. He also placed second in the 200 meters at the 2009 Region 1-4A Championships, with a personal-best time of 22.21 seconds.
Claiborne attended Louisiana State University, where he played for coach Les Miles's LSU Tigers football team from 2009 to 2011. After spending his freshman season as a backup in 2009, he started 12 games in 2010 and recorded 37 tackles and a team-leading five interceptions as a sophomore in 2010, and was named a second-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection. Following his junior season in 2011, Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the year's best defensive back, earned first-team All-SEC honors, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American.
Claiborne was not perceived as a first-round draft pick prior to his junior season. By midseason, however, he had drawn the attention of NFL scouts and analysts, having erased concerns his sophomore production resulted from playing opposite of Patrick Peterson. Towards the end of his junior season, Claiborne had established himself as the best cornerback prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft, unanimously projected as a top-6 selection. Claiborne scored a 4 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test, which is an aptitude test given to NFL prospects to test basic intelligence. After being drafted, Claiborne admitted he "blew the test off" (the Wonderlic test) after seeing that it had "nothing on the test that came with football".
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad||Wonderlic|
|5 ft 11 1⁄8 in
|33 1⁄4 in
|8 1⁄2 in
|4.43 s||1.56 s||2.58 s||4.12 s||7.01 s||35 in
|9 ft 10 in
|40 time and vertical from LSU Pro Day|
Coming into the NFL Draft, Claiborne was predicted to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the fifth overall pick or even the fourth overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings. The first day of the NFL draft was held on April 26, 2012. On the first day of the draft, the Buccaneers traded out of the fifth pick to the seventh pick with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars selected Oklahoma State University wide receiver Justin Blackmon with their newly acquired fifth overall pick. The Cowboys desperate for help on the defensive backfield, then traded with the St. Louis Rams (who had expressed their desire to trade out of the sixth pick in order to collect more draft picks) for the sixth pick, and selected Claiborne ahead of the Buccaneers. The St. Louis Rams received the Cowboys' 2012 first, which was used on defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the 14th overall pick, and second round, which was used on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery with the 45th overall pick, selections while the Cowboys received the 2012 first round selection (sixth overall).
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones explained after Claiborne was selected that Claiborne was the only player that the Cowboys would trade up for in the 2012 NFL Draft, but considered it a far fetched idea because Claiborne was ranked as a top five player in the draft with the Cowboys picking 14th overall. Claiborne was ranked second on the Dallas draft board right after first overall pick Andrew Luck.
Claiborne officially signed his contract with the Cowboys on Monday, July 23, 2012, just a few days before the start of training camp. Claiborne signed a fully guaranteed deal worth $16.4 million over four years (the Cowboys included an option for a fifth year if they desire) with a $10.3 million signing bonus. There was no offset language in the contract.
The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2012 NFL Draft with cornerback as their top draft priority and traded up with the St. Louis Rams moving from the 14th position to the 6th position, in exchange for a second round (45th) draft choice, in order to select Claiborne in the first round.
Recovering from a surgically repaired wrist, Claiborne missed minicamp and all of the organized team activities but was still named the starter at right cornerback. There were high expectations for him during his rookie season, as he finished with 55 tackles and one interception, while suffering a number of minor injuries and being targeted by opposing teams in order to avoid Brandon Carr on the left side.
In 2013, Claiborne bulked up from 185 to 193 pounds and seemed motivated to play in the team's new 4-3 defense. His progress was slowed first by a sprained knee he hurt in preseason that made him miss three weeks of training camp and later by a dislocated left shoulder he suffered in the season opener. Forced to wear a harness to stabilize the shoulder and play through the injury, Claiborne had poor performances and was passed on the depth chart by Orlando Scandrick after the third game. He also faced adversity with the death of his father and from missing 6 games with a hamstring injury.
In 2014, Claiborne missed most of the preseason with knee tendinitis and an AC joint separation. He began the season as the starter at right cornerback with Scandrick suspended for the first two contests but returned to a reserve role after the third game, even though he made the interception that clinched the win. When told of his demotion from the coaches on September 23, he walked out of the Cowboys' practice facility but returned later that night. On September 28, he sustained a noncontact torn left patellar tendon against the New Orleans Saints and was placed on the injured reserve list after four games. In December, he also had his right knee scoped to strengthen the other patellar tendon. The Cowboys opted not to pick up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract.
In 2015, Claiborne's rehab from a potentially career-threatening injury went better than expected, regaining his previous form and being able to avoid missing time in training camp. Coming from two previous disappointing seasons, where he only started a total of 10 games, the season-ending injury to Orlando Scandrick opened the door for him to be named the starting right cornerback. He ended up starting 11 games, missing five contests with hamstring and ankle injuries, while registering five passes defensed and no interceptions.
On March 11, 2016, the Cowboys re-signed Claiborne to a one-year contract worth $3 million, that could reach a maximum of $3.75 million with incentives. In training camp, while Orlando Scandrick was out recovering from a knee injury, he earned the starting left cornerback position. During the season, he showed the potential that was expected from him since the 2012 NFL draft and had his best season with the Cowboys. In the week 4 win against the San Francisco 49ers, he played a key role in the fourth quarter with an interception and tackling wide receiver Torrey Smith short of a first down on a crucial 4th-and-6 play, getting the ball back so the Cowboys could run out the clock. In the next game, he limited All-Pro A. J. Green to 4 receptions for 50 yards (including a pass breakup of a sure touchdown), contributing to a 28-14 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Against the Green Bay Packers, Claiborne had to leave in the third quarter because of a concussion. Unfortunately in the next game after a bye, he severely injured his groin during the Cowboys’ overtime win against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 8. There was a fear that the injury could require season-ending surgery, but the team decided to let it to heal on its own and not place Claiborne on the injured reserve list. After a 9 game absence, he returned for the divisional-round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, but he injured his ribs in the first half and had to leave the game with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Injuries had been a constant in his professional career going all the way back to his rookie season, and he never had a chance to show what he could really do. In 5 seasons, he had 151 tackles, four fumble recoveries, and four interceptions, never recording more than one interception per season and only played in 47 games out of a possible total of 80.
GP = Games played
GS = Games started
Comb = Combined tackles
Solo = Solo tackles
Asst = Assisted tackles
Sack = Quarterback sacks
Int = Interceptions
Yds = Interception return yards
Avg = Average interception return
Lng = Longest interception return
TD = Interception return touchdowns
PD = Passes defended
FF = Fumbles forced
FR = Fumbles recovered
Yds = Fumble return yards
TD = Fumble return touchdowns
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