Breaking Down Jay Ratliff

The Cowboys closed out draft with Auburn's Jay Ratliff. The question remains, can he contribute?

"Don't believe everything you read."

The phrase might come into play with the final Dallas choice in the 2005 Draft. As the Cowboys wrapped up a draft in which they re-stocked the defensive front seven in what everyone assumes is a move to the 3-4, the team's last choice was spent on Auburn defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (6-33.5, 275, 4.88).

Coming out of college, he's being called a defensive tackle. But by the time he arrives at Valley Ranch, Ratliff might well be listed as a defensive end.

The Cowboys are collecting huge defensive linemen, and as a tackle, Ratliff is not big. La'Roi Glover is listed at 285 pounds, and is thought to be small (but very talented and very quick) for a defensive tackle. In addition, Ratliff is pretty quick .... and a converted defensive end who moved inside only during spring drills prior to his senior season. Ratliff keeps his pad level very low and is quick when changing direction, as well as when running straight ahead.

Playing in the Southeastern Conference, he's used to facing linemen who outweigh him by 40 or 50 pounds, and is adept at shedding blocks and separating from blockers.

Ratliff is a "high motor" guy who chases from sideline to sideline, and has the speed to make plays not expected from many defensive linemen. Thought to be still growing, Ratliff also has shown some ability on special teams.

His versatility could allow him to be a backup at both defensive end and defensive tackle, but the team's desire for huge interior guys means he likely will spend more time at end.

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