Following a promising rookie campaign, Claiborne has more or less faded into a player who hasn't lived up to the first-round pedigree he showcased as an unanimous All-American at LSU. A slew of injuries in 2013 and 2014 limited him to just seven starts over the two seasons and left his career in a perilous state.
After undergoing surgery on his right knee to prevent potential problems with his patellar tendon during the 2015 offseason, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he thought Claiborne had a "real good chance to surprise" in 2015. Despite getting an opportunity to prove his worth after Orlando Scandrick's season-ending ACL and MCL injuries, Claiborne put in a mostly underwhelming performance.
Claiborne has grown weary of failing to meet his own lofty expectations. He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Charean Williams that he's hoping to earn a different line of postgame questioning from reporters.
"When y'all come talk to me, I want y'all to say, 'That was a nice pick. Oh, you made this play. How does it feel to be going to the Pro Bowl? How does it feel to be going to the Super Bowl?'" Claiborne said.
"Those are the questions I want," he continued. "I'm ready to take on that task, and I know the coaches expect a lot from me. I know I expect a lot from myself. Nothing less. I have some high goals this year, and I'm going to try to do everything it takes to get there."
The question is whether Claiborne, 26, is physically capable of playing like a standout cornerback at the NFL level. The free-agent market certainly has lost some faith in him -- the Cowboys brought him back on a one-year, $3 million contract after reportedly mild interest in his services.
At perhaps his healthiest state since his rookie season, Claiborne wants to prove he's more than just a guy who's been limited to just 24 games over his four NFL seasons. He understands 2016 will mark a critical -- and perhaps final -- chance to rewrite the narrative of his career.
"I just need to prove to myself that I can go out and make plays," Claiborne said. "It hasn't happened for me, but I feel like it's going to happen when it happens. I'm pushing the issue."