2012 Dallas Draft Class:
RD 1, Pick 6 – Morris Claiborne, CB
RD 3, Pick 81 – Tyrone Crawford, DE
RD 4, Pick 113 – Kyle Wilber, DE
RD 4, Pick 135 – Matt Johnson, SS
RD 5, Pick 152 – Danny Coale, WR
RD 6, Pick 186 – James Hanna, TE
RD 7, Pick 222 – Caleb McSurdy, LB
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report) Grade: B
“Trading up for Morris Claiborne was pure brilliance. He’s a lockdown cornerback who will instantly make their defense better. Claiborne and Brandon Carr will be a dangerous one-two punch. Kyle Wilber is one of my favorite ‘tweeners in this year’s class. He’s a guy who could steal major playing time from Anthony Spencer at outside linebacker this year. Same for Tyrone Crawford, who will challenge for playing time at defensive end in the 3-4 defense” – Miller
After seeing the Dallas Cowboys draft four All-Pros in their prior two drafts, we get to the first draft that didn’t produce an All-Pro or Pro Bowl player.
Dallas traded their first (14th overall) and second-round picks (45th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft to the St. Louis Rams for the sixth overall pick which they used to draft Claiborne. Those picks turned into Michael Brockers (14th overall) and Janoris Jenkins (Rams used that Dallas pick to trade up to the 39th pick).
Claiborne’s time in Dallas was riddled by injury as he never played a full 16 games while with the team. After appearing in 15 games his rookie season, he played in just 32 games over the next four seasons.
After being selected as the Jim Thorpe Award winner, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, a Unanimous All-American and First-team All-SEC his senior year, Claiborne was seen as the most gifted DB in his class – a class that included Stephon Gilmore, Harrison Smith and Casey Hayward.
In addition to his lack of availability, he registered just four interceptions in his five seasons with Dallas. Surprisingly, following his departure from the team in 2017, he played in 30 games over the next two seasons for the New York Jets. He recorded 22 pass deflections and three interceptions during that span. He played in eight games for the Kansas City Chiefs this past season.
The most consistent player of this draft class was third-round selection, Tyrone Crawford. Crawford played in 93 of a possible 96 regular-season games for Dallas in his first five seasons before having season-ending shoulder surgery this past season.
There’s an argument to be made that his ability to play both inside and outside defensive line spots hurt his growth as a player. Following a zero sack rookie season, Crawford has totaled 23 career sacks.
In 2015, Crawford was signed to a five-year, $45 million contract ($25.7 million guaranteed).
Kyle Wilber was another multi-positional player for the Cowboys. Outside his 10-game rookie season, Wilber only missed one game over the next five seasons with Dallas. He rotated as a linebacker and situational pass rusher. However, he went his last three seasons with the team without registering a sack.
The trend of injury-plagued defensive backs continued with fourth-round safety Matt Johnson. Johnson stuck with the Cowboys three seasons without playing in a single regular-season game. The hype around his potential is the only known of Johnson as he didn’t find another NFL opportunity after Dallas.
Dallas matched their two injury-prone defensive backs with wide receiver Danny Coale.
Coale suffered a broken toe in a conditioning drill, which forced him to miss OTAs and weeks of training camp. He was released on August 30 and re-signed to the practice squad on September 1, 2012. His season was cut short when he suffered a torn ACL on November 15, 2012, and was placed on the injured reserve list.
The next season, he experienced swelling in his repaired left knee, which set him back in training camp and was waived on August 30, 2013, before being re-signed to the practice squad. On September 16, 2013, he was waived to make room for Jamar Newsome.
James Hanna was destined to be the complimentary “speed” tight end behind Jason Witten. But, he couldn’t catch. However, he did turn into one of the better blockers on the team during his time here.
Draft Grade: C
Reasoning: The Cowboys drafted one consistent starter from this 2012 class. Injuries robbed Morris Claiborne of a successful career and possibly is the reason Dallas is hesitant now to use draft capital to make significant leaps in the draft. Tyrone Crawford was a productive starter, so he’s the savior of this draft. Though Kyle Wilber was rarely seen as a starting linebacker you could trust, he did have his hands in being one of the more reliable special team players. And, if needed, could start at linebacker or defensive end. You also were able to get a tight end in James Hanna who eventually helped anchor the most dominant run game in football.
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