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The Dallas Cowboys best draft picks of all time - No. 3

Jay-ratliff-2009-10-11-17-40-52As a celebration of NFL draft week, The Big Mac Blog will look back at the best and worst of the Dallas Cowboys' draft history. We continue with the good. The criteria is simple - the lower the expection, i.e. the selection, and the greater the return, the better pick.

3. Jay Ratliff, DL, Auburn, 2005, 224th selection
This was a case of selecting a pretty good athlete from an SEC school and maybe hoping he might develop into a guy who could contribute. It took a while, and a position move from defensive end to nose tackle, but Ratliff developed into one of the nastiest nose tackles in the NFL.

He saw limited action as a rookie before he began to show signs as a potentially dominant player in 2006 when he had four sacks and three fumble recoveries as a backup.

An injury to starter Jason Ferguson forced the Cowboys to switch Ratliff to nose tackle where he excelled. He has been to four Pro Bowls and has been named an All-Pro once.

Ratliff has "the motor", not to mention one of the meaner streaks in the league. He's not dirty, but he's not pleasant.

He started all 16 games from 2008 to '11. Injuries limited him to just six games last season.

Picked immediately after: Marcus Maxwell, WR, Oregon
Picked immediately ahead of: Paris Warren, WR, Utah

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