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A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

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News and Notes, 7/5/12: Supplemental Draft, Rookies, Fantasy

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Jonathan Bales

I’ve been on a guest posting mission of late, providing fantasy football content to a bunch of different sites in order to promote Fantasy Football for Smart People.

Buy it.

Tops on that list is Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon, who runs a 4.43 at 220 pounds. I’m a big, big proponent of “buying low” on players in the supplemental draft. Often times, teams can acquire amazing value on guys whose stock is at its lowest point. For minimal risk, a guy like Gordon (or Josh Brent) can reap big rewards.

Morris Claiborne will obviously be the Cowboys’ premiere rookie this season, but I think the player who will make the next biggest impact actually went undrafted. Guard Ronald Leary has the inside track to beat out David Arkin and perhaps even Mackenzy Bernadeau. The Cowboys allocated a huge signing bonus to Leary, basically guaranteeing he’ll make the roster. I’m not overly impressed with either Bernadeau or Nate Livings, and Leary might surprise this year.

The answer to this one is pretty easy, but the extent to which Claiborne can make plays could really determine the Cowboys’ fate this year. In my opinion, Claiborne is one of the best zone corners I’ve studied in years. From my scouting report on Claiborne:

In the passing game, Claiborne excels at using his body to wall off receivers. On deep balls, Claiborne “boxes out” receivers, all while turning his head to locate the football and avoid pass interference.  His awareness of the receiver’s location is uncanny.

One of the reasons Claiborne plays the deep ball so well is that he’s adept at flipping his hips.  The fluidity he displays from his backpedal to a turn-and-run position is outstanding.  Claiborne’s quick hips allow him to let receivers eat up his cushion before he turns to run if they go deep.  In turn, Claiborne can then squat on routes like comebacks and curls, knowing he has the quickness to recover if the receiver reaches his hip.

Claiborne is versatile; he’s sharp in both press and off coverage.  He seems most comfortable at the line, however, where he can use his long arms to disrupt receivers as they try to get into their routes.  In the N.F.L., Claiborne will need to limit contact after five yards.  In college, he was physical with receivers well into their routes.  In the pros, that will be flagged, so expect Claiborne to see his fair share of penalties early in the 2012 season.

Claiborne is at his best in zone coverage.  He has a really solid understanding of zone concepts and spacing.  He is constantly coming off his receiver in zone to make plays, all while maintaining his responsibility.

 

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