Doug Mouton / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- From barely good enough to play in the SEC to one of the elite players in the NFL Draft, few players at the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis have gone through a transformation as great as Morris Claiborne.
When Claiborne arrived in Baton Rouge from Fair Park High School in Shreveport, he was the 90th best wide receiver in his senior class. He's now the number one cornerback.
"Here's a guy that's just learning the position," NFL Draft analyst Mike Detillier said of Claiborne. "This is just three years at cornerback. He was a quarterback / wide receiver in high school. But his movement skills, his quickness, his ability to turn in reverse. The quick hips. Technically, he is what you want."
Claiborne is one of just three Tiger defenders to start all 14 games. In his junior season, Claiborne intercepted six passes, even though opposing quarterbacks often ignored his side of the field. Among his highlights, a pick six in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia, and a huge interception in the LSU win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
"He is technically a better cover cornerback than Patrick Peterson," Detillier said of Claiborne.
Peterson was the fifth pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and he had a great season for the Arizona Cardinals, making the Pro Bowl as a return man. Claiborne does not have Peterson's explosiveness, Detillier said, but he is a better pure cover man.
"He is going to be an instant impact player in the NFL," Detillier said.
Cornerbacks carry great value because in the age of Drew Brees, where 400 yard passing games are commonplace, the one thing every NFL team needs is another cover cornerback.
"For every one good cover cornerback, I can find you five receivers," Detillier said. "That's why the game is what it is today. That's why he is as valuable as he is as a football player."
According to Detillier, Claiborne will be the first cornerback and the first defensive back taken in April's draft. Detillier predicts Claiborne to get taken in the first six picks, and ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper agrees. In his latest mock draft, Kiper predicts the Washington Redskins will pick Morris Claiborne with the 6th pick in the NFL Draft.