Our continuing series looking at the Top 10 Biggest Draft Successes Of The Jerry Jones Era rolls on with #1. The guidelines - Must have been drafted during Jerry Jones' era (1989 - present), and generally needs to be a player chosen in the 3rd round or later. Anybody above that was expected to succeed. It's not a list of the best players, but a list of the best value to the team, based on contributions and when they were drafted. Also, certain intangibles can be thrown into the mix.
1. Jay Ratliff (2005, 7th round, #224, DT, Auburn)
Jason Ferguson's injury at the beginning of the 2007 season might be one of the best things to happen to the Cowboys recently. That's when Jay Ratliff took over at NT, and he hasn't looked back since. We're putting Jay at the top of our list because of how good he has been, how good we think he'll continue to be, and because he was drafted all the way down in the 7th round.
Since the Rat took over in 2007, he's been to the Pro Bowl three out of four years. He plays a position that is rarely known for sacks because a 3-4 NT is constantly double-teamed, yet he's already accumulated 25 sacks. He's relentless in the middle, with one of the quickest first steps you'll ever see on a big man. He's also durable, he has only missed one game since taking over as the starter.
What was once an afterthought in the 2005 draft - a guy taken way down in the 7th round and initially was playing DE - is now being recognized as one of the best NTs in the league. Jay Ratliff has gone from unknown to star. And he still has some years left to raise his stat totals, and show his dominance.
Miscellaneous stats: Has 12 passes defensed in his career. He's forced four fumbles, and has recovered 12 fumbles so far.
OCC: Of the 1,499 NFL players drafted in the seventh round since 1989, only two made the All Pro Team, Jay Ratliff was one of them. Similarly, 7th round picks drafted since 1989 have gone to the Pro Bowl a combined six times. Ratliff accounts for three of those Pro Bowl nods.
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