IRVING, Texas _ To land the best, you have to go bold, you have to pay premium, and beyond the shock value, you have to expect the second-guessing.
And that was the Cowboys on Thursday night, opening the first round of the NFL Draft by going bold, paying premium, sending shock waves, and yes, here came the gave-up-too-much second-guessing.
But as far as LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne is concerned, what the heck is there not to like about the best cornerback in the draft, and a player considered one of the top five elite players in the draft, joining the Cowboys' secondary.
It's not like cornerback wasn't a top need. It's also not like any group position on the defense wasn't a need, and with Claiborne teaming with new free-agent addition Brandon Carr, the Cowboys suddenly should be going from borderline awful at corner, to very, very good.
At least with the dramatic trade up for Claiborne from No. 14 to No. 6, at the cost of a second-round pick, and with the new $50 million contract for Carr, the corner play had better be very, very good.
Again, however, if you have a need, why not go bold in filling the need with an elite talent?
Actually, it's nothing new for Jerry Jones to get frisky in the first round of almost every draft, but for all the wrong reasons. He's made a habit of twisting the Cowboys' first-rounder, usually involving some kind of weird trade-down plot that typically backfired.
If the Cowboys had drafted well and wise over the years, they wouldn't be mired in the current state of mediocrity.
But this Claiborne move was over the top in being aggressive, and it was the right kind of aggressiveness.
The St. Louis Rams called Stephen Jones on Thursday morning, offering to make a deal for the No. 6 pick. That phone call kicked off the negotiations that weren't finalized until Claiborne was still there at the sixth pick.
The Cowboys say they had Claiborne rated as the best defensive player in the draft, which is basically the way the multitude of mock drafts also had him rated, and the way Thursday's first round went.
But, of course, there's second-guessing involved in most all aspects of the draft, and the move for Claiborne didn't escape the doubters.
The second-guessing in this situation is legitimate, even if I don't agree with it, simply because a major move of this kind, moving eight spots into the top six, is usually associated with teams considered "one player away."
The Cowboys, of course, don't exactly fall into the category of "one player away" although they were one win away last season from at least winning the division.
In that regard, however, mediocre teams need players who can play. For the Cowboys to forfeit a second-round pick _ an area where starters are supposed to come from _ falls for some into the gave-up-too-much category.
Another legit point is it doesn't matter how many corners the Cowboys stockpile, and how much of an upgrade there's now been for next season, without a better pass rush it's still no man's land back there.
Then again, as coach %Jason Garrett pointed out Thursday night, the better the coverage, the better the opportunity for pass rushers.
But the Cowboys are woefully lacking in the pass rush area, and that's an obvious fact.
Once the Claiborne pick was announced Thursday night, ESPN draft analyst Jon Gruden gave a less-than-glowing national TV scouting report on the cornerback, citing several areas where he felt Claiborne was lacking.
Opinions are many, of course, on draft night.
The bottom line, however, on acquiring Claiborne is the best defensive player in the draft _ and that's an overwhelming opinion by the draft gurus _ now will call Valley Ranch home, which counters any negatives.
The news that the Cowboys didn't consider this kind of huge trade up until the Rams called Thursday morning was confirmed by Claiborne when he talked to the local media by phone from New York on Thursday night.
Claiborne seemed shocked, and also very pleased, he was drafted by the Cowboys. Except in all the pre-draft romancing, including the scouting combine, he'd had no conversations with the team.
"I didn't see this coming in a million years," said Claiborne, who is from Shreveport, an area of Louisiana considered huge Cowboys country.
"My whole household is Cowboys fans," he said, "so I had no choice but to root for them."
Meanwhile, Stephen Jones admitted it was "painful" to lose a second-round pick, but added it had already been determined a trade up would come only for Claiborne.
"We just didn't think it would be realistic to get him, and at six, we didn't think he'd get past the top five," Stephen said.
So the Cowboys came out of the first round with a player considered top-five elite in the draft, making it easy to believe, as Garrett claimed, that he was the second player on the team's draft board, second only to overall top pick Andrew Luck.
For this draft, the Cowboys went bold in the first round, but this time for all the right reasons.
Elite is elite. Always take elite and never look back.
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