6'0, 185 pounds | Cornerback | LSU
Ball skills: A former wide receiver, Claiborne's hands are much better than most cornerbacks. Shows incredible anticipation skills to time his jump and make a play on the ball. Dangerous after the catch. Has good vision and elusiveness, which he also shows in the return game. Despite not seeing many passes thrown to his side of the field, still had six interceptions and six pass breakups as a junior.
Man coverage: Inconsistent jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Needs to get better hand placement. Makes up for it because he's loose in the hips and can turn and run with any receiver. Is much better at disrupting the receiver as the route develops, though physical NFL receivers will test his strength. Rarely take a bad, wasted step, so Claiborne isn't prone to mistakes. He could get better on short passes, though. Claiborne likes to open his hips early so he can turn and run with the receiver. This can get him in trouble in the quick passing game.
Size: Possesses good natural size and length. Has long limbs to match up with taller receivers and doesn't get taken advantage of in jump ball situations.
Tackling: Needs to develop more strength to be a better tackler. While Claiborne doesn't shy away from contact, he's not a great form tackler. Has trouble getting off blockers. Has a frame to get bigger, which will help his tackling.
Zone coverage: Doesn't have a lot of experience in zone coverage. Reads routes well when he's playing off coverage, but he can tend to make the throwing window too big. Reacts quickly to impact the play, which negates this minor, coachable flaw. Shows good balance to not lose position when he's dropped back in coverage.
Final word: For a likely top five pick, it's incredible that Claiborne could be overshadowed by fellow cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. As a pure cover corner, though, Claiborne is better than both. The 2011 Jim Thorpe Award winner combines size and athleticism with a penchant for making a big play on the ball. The high school wide receiver attacks the ball in the air and is a threat to score after picking the ball off. Can be used on kick and punt returns, though this is where Peterson had the advantage.
Has the size, instincts and athleticism to be the first cornerback drafted and start immediately as a rookie in the NFL.