Ratliff Showing Flashes of Potential

Rookie defensive tackle Jay Ratliff has made strides through the first week of training camp. Does that mean he has a realistic chance of making the team?

Draft Pick: Jay Ratliff (10th pick, 7th round, 224 overall)

Position: Defensive Tackle

Contract Details: Signed a three-year contract the week before training, including a signing bonus of $41,000.

Positives: The former Auburn star was impressive during the Cowboys' only mini-camp of the offseason and has the "high-motor" personality that Parcells likes. Ratliff also has the ability to backup at several positions and could be used as a three-technique tackle or left defensive end. At over 290 pounds, he is also unbelievably quick (timed at 4.88 speed in the 40-yard dash). He's shown flashes of that quickness through the first week of camp, and has also played multiple positions.

Negatives: Ratliff may be a too small to play defensive tackle in the NFL, more specifically, he may be too small to play nose tackle in the 3-4. The Cowboys like his quickness, but he may need to bulk up to remain in the interior.

Quote to Note: "Coach Parcells and (Auburn) Coach (Tommy) Tuberville are as different as anyone can be," Ratliff said. "In the time I played for him, I don't think I ever heard Coach Tuberville raise his voice -- once."

Surprise Note: Ratliff has lined up as a tight end in goal line situations during the first week of camp.

Analysis: Ratliff has moved to defensive end, perhaps temporarily, after an MCL sprain suffered by fellow rookie Marcus Spears. In making the move, Ratliff has shown progress in the eyes of the staff. However right now, he appears to be headed to the practice squad as a developmental player. As a seventh round draft pick, Ratliff does have an upside, it just may take a year or two before the Cowboys see him on the field. For now, the Cowboys need more size, and more experience out of their reserve defensive tackles.

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