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Jason Garrett: Morris Claiborne needs to become “stronger”

Morris Claiborne

Dallas Cowboys cornerback (24) Morris Claiborne on the sidelines during a game against the San Diego Chargers played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/John Cordes)


Two years ago, the Cowboys traded their first-round selection (No. 14 overall) and their second-round choice (No. 45) to St. Louis to move up to the No. 6 pick to draft cornerback Morris Claiborne.

In two seasons with the Cowboys, Claiborne has started 22-of-32 games at cornerback, intercepting two passes. He missed six games in 2013, when he dealt with knee, shoulder and hamstring injuries, and he lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick.

At the NFL meetings on Wednesday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters that the club has “a lot of confidence” in Claiborne, but he also noted that the 5-11, 190-pound corner from LSU has to add to strength.

“We got to get Mo healthy,” Garrett said, according to a transcript from the Pro Football Writers of America. “We got to get him stronger. And keep giving him chances to go out there and play cause we feel like he has a bright future.”

Regarding the decision to start Scandrick, Garrett said: “We are going to play the best guy. Last year we felt like Orlando was playing better than Mo for a lot of the year so that is why he was playing.”

The Cowboys paid no small price in the Claiborne deal; second-round picks get four-year contracts at team-friendly compensation. The Cowboys, who do not have the deepest roster, gave up an opportunity to add a second potential contributor at a favorable price to get Claiborne.

In the end, decision to trade up will be always be graded by the production of the player acquired in the deal. And not all move-ups are a bad thing. For instance, the Bears traded up five spots to acquire the No. 45 pick in 2012 from the Rams.

And with the No. 45 pick, the Bears took Alshon Jeffery.

Claiborne is only 24, and he was a very well-regarded prospect. The Cowboys have every reason to be somewhat patient. However, they clearly didn’t pay a big price for him to anticipate him being anything but a clear-cut starter in their secondary.