Morris is an intriguing prospect as he has the speed + size combination that scouts look for in cornerback prospects. He has the speed to run the go route with some of the fastest receivers and the bulk to jam bigger pass catchers at the line. He’s shown the ability to play press man, off man, and zone coverages better than most prospects play any of those schemes.
He’s at his best when he’s in press and able to get his hands on receivers earlier in the route. Claiborne is even more effective when he’s defending the bigger receivers and able to play a physical game with his opponent.
Unlike Dre Kirkpatrick who primarily plays the left cornerback position 90+% of the time, LSU was able to shift Claiborne all over the field and play him in whichever spot worked best in their scheme on that specific play. NFL teams will love the flexibility that he brings to their game plan. Adding value to him as a prospect is the fact that he tracks the ball like a receiver and has the hands and the mindset to attack the ball, looking for turnovers and not breakups. Lastly, Morris has the ability to change the game on special teams as well. He’s a threat anytime he returns a kick but let’s not compare him to former teammate Patrick Peterson.
While Claiborne is better defending the bigger targets on defense he doesn’t perform as well against them when it comes to getting off of blocks. Claiborne does show the ability to be scheme diverse but he struggles more in off man then press and more so in zone coverage. Morris also struggles to get off on rub plays. Several times on film he takes a bad angle to the ball to avoid the rub altogether instead of fighting to get over the top.
Smaller, shiftier receivers have shown a tendency to cause problems with Claiborne. While battling to keep pace with the quicker cuts of the small wideouts he has a tendency to lose his footing in coverage and another member of the Tigers’ defense would have to recover for him. He will struggle with the illegal contact rules outside of 5 yards in the NFL as he was “grabby” with receivers throughout their routes.
- Ht: 6’0″
- Wt: 185
- 40 Time: 4.47
I like Morris Claiborne as a first round prospect but I don’t believe that he’s a great cornerback. He’s a good cornerback that will definitely start for an NFL team but he’s not worth a top 10 pick. He’s not even the best corner prospect in this draft but he’s the “cleanliest”, meaning that he has the ideal size, flexibility, and character.
Front office personnel don’t need to draft him for his diversity, they need to draft him and play him towards his strengths. I would spend a first round pick on Claiborne if I planned to play him in a ton of press man against the NFL’s 6’2+ receivers that may have speed but don’t have the precision type cuts of an Antonio Brown or DeSean Jackson .
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Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock