FanPost

NT - Jay Ratliff, a big guy or the right kind of big guy?

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Among the usual topics around here in Cowboys Nation we have: how Jay Ratliff is so vastly undersized, how he would be a much better fit at DE and the addition of X or Y big guy into the lineup and the improvement in performance it would bring to the DLine.

To that I say: the Cowboys have played with unknowns before and the results haven't been pretty (Ball at FS, anyone?).

Have we seen Ratliff playing against Tackles in a consistent basis? No.

How can you claim that he's going to play better?

Because of his size?

Ok, I'll play.

Let's say that Jay Ratliff is strong when it comes to explosion (quickness and strength), motor and hand usage to go along with arm length.

He's used against Centers and Guards, which are the kind of prospects that you prefer in a phone booth because they don't tend to be quick enough or agile enough to play outside on an island. Their arms also tend to be on the short side.

So, what you're telling me is that Ratliff will perform better while playing against long armed and more athlethic Tackle prospects... Pretty much neutralizing what makes him such a good player... I'm failing to see the logic used here...

He may be an improvement over Spears and Kenyon Coleman, to that I'll agree. But who's going to replace what he brings while abusing Centers and Guards?

Dontari Poe?

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Freakishly strong and straight line athlete. Struggles some with footwork and he's a bit stiff in the hips, change of direction with this guy isn't pretty. Raw, needs development. Short arms (32'').

B.J. Raji also has 32'' arms? Yes, and that's were the comparison between the two end. Poe is the better athlete, sure. Raji was the MUCH better prospect. Raji comes from the ACC, Poe from USA and Raji out-performed Poe in this range in their 3 years of starting:

Total tackles: 105 - 101

TFL: 32.5 - 21.5

Sacks: 12.5 - 5

PD: 9 - 4

Such a difference of performance can mean a couple of things that make me wary of taking Poe:

1. Raji was the more developed prospect. Makes me wary because: Raji was only a backup in his 1st year and struggled some. How much worse would a less developed prospect look?

2. As it's been reported over and over again, Poe lets his motor run cold. Makes me wary because: this is a mental aspect and a 50-50 bet that he's going to improve upon this.

A big guy at NT and a DLine is improved?

Bj_raji_medium

Again, I'll use B. J. Raji and the Packers DLine as examples.

Let's hop on the time machine and travel back to 2010, Raji had a really good season of disruption and 6.5 sacks. Let's come back to the present and Raji comes from a disappointing season with just 3 sacks.

What does that mean? That football is a team sport, that what the players around you do affects your performance. In 2010 Clay Matthews, Cullen Jenkins and Raji were the team leaders in sacks with a combined number of 27 sacks. In 2011 Matthews, Desmond Bishop (ILB) and a tie of three guys (with 3 sacks each) were the team leaders with 14 sacks.

A big guy Raji may be, but if you put Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears around him you just won't get better performance than what Ratliff brings.

Now, adding a guy like Raji and moving Ratliff to End, even if his performance struggles while playing against tougher opponents, could mean an overall improvement along the DLine.

And that's the problem, I don't think that Poe is that guy.

And that's my conclusion, Ratliff in the Nose in 2012.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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