NEW YORK - Morris Claiborne would have never guessed it would be the Dallas Cowboys. During the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, the LSU cornerback never heard a peep from the Cowboys. He didn't work out for the team, didn't visit the headquarters.
Claiborne didn't even have an interview with Dallas at the combine.
"Crazy," Claiborne said after the Cowboys traded up eight slots to pick him sixth overall. "They showed no interest at all in me.
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"You know how teams call to update your phone number? I didn't even get that call."
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The Cowboys' smokescreen and aggressive move to get their man exemplified the spirit Thursday, when eight first-round slots changed hands.
It started with coronations of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the quarterback saviors. For 40 days and 40 nights, we were told that they can walk on water - and would go first and second to the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins.
No drama there. Now Luck and RGIII can enjoy their short honeymoons.
After the formality of their selections, it got so interesting.
The Cleveland Browns gave up three late picks to move up one slot, to third overall, where they took Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
"That told me they weren't going to let me slip through their hands," Richardson said.
The Jacksonville Jaguars moved up, too, two slots to fifth, for the best game-breaking wide receiver in the draft, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. And the Philadelphia Eagles, who, like the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, are not drafting unless they are trying to trade, jumped up three slots to 12th, where they claimed Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
There used to be a time when dealing for high first-round picks was as desirable as grabbing a hot potato. Especially when one considered the mega millions committed to the unproven players.
Yet all of the movement Thursday, as a few NFL general managers suspected before the draft, was aided by the new collective bargaining agreement and its rookie cap. It's a lot less costly to deal for a high first-rounder.
For the kids sitting in the green room, imagine the nerves as all of the jockeying played out - the culmination of weeks of speculation.
"I wasn't getting caught up in it," Cox said. "I even told my agent, 'Don't tell me nothing nobody said. I just want to get that phone call.' "
In the back of his mind, though, Cox figured he'd wind up with one of three teams that oozed interest - the Eagles, Carolina Panthers or St. Louis Rams.
Until it happened?
"There was a little pressure in that (green) room," Cox said.
The pressure won't stop now. It will merely come in different forms.
Take Luck, the son of a former NFL quarterback, fresh off the Stanford campus. He just happens to be the replacement for Peyton Manning.
Think Luck will have to prove he was worthy of being picked No. 1 overall?
"As a football player, what's great about it is that you always have to prove yourself," he said. "Every Saturday and Sunday. ... It doesn't matter what you did last week. You want to prove yourself every week. I don't know if it will be in my mind because I'm the No. 1 pick, but I know I have high expectations for myself."
Considering how Cam Newton lit it up as a rookie last year and Andy Dalton, a second-rounder, joined Newton in posting a Pro Bowl campaign, the bar has been raised for neophyte QBs.
The meter is already running.
For the flurry of moves to christen the draft, that much is no surprise.