In 2012, the Cowboys traded up to take Claiborne with the sixth overall pick, giving up the Nos. 14 and 45 picks to the St. Louis Rams to get him.
Had the Cowboys held firm on their picks, then the likely first-round pick would have been defensive end Michael Brockers. In his first two years with the Rams, Brockers has 9.5 sacks in 29 games (28 starts); solid numbers for an interior defensive linemen.
In the second round, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys would have taken Bobby Wagner with the 45th overall pick. He went No. 47 to the Seahawks and has started 29 of the 30 games he has played with 159 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions.
Now it was easy for Jones to say Wagner would have been the pick. It would have meant the Cowboys were going with “the best player available” theory because in 2010 the Cowboys drafted Sean Lee in the second round to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 and in 2011 they took Bruce Carter in the second round to play the other inside linebacker spot.
Carter’s rookie year was largely a wash because he was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered late in his senior season at North Carolina. He played in only 10 games as a rookie and did not have a solo tackle, seeing most of his time on special teams.
Was Jones being truthful that April night as he sat back feeling good about the Claiborne pick?
While acknowledging that Jones once said, “Just because I say it, doesn’t make it so,” let’s assume he was telling the truth for a moment.
If Jones was, then the team had serious reservations about Carter after his first season, injury or no injury. Carter had a good second season before an elbow injury ended his year after 11 games and 80 tackles. He did not play well in 2013, like most of the defense, as he moved to the weakside linebacker spot.
Wagner, meanwhile, has been a playmaking machine in Seattle and is a game away from playing in the Super Bowl.