Dallas Cowboys: 15 best draft-day steals of all-time

Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys
Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Best draft-day steals by the Dallas Cowboys of all-time: 8. Jay Ratliff

2005 NFL Draft: Round 7, Pick No. 224

When a player dominates at the college level for a school like Auburn, they usually hear their named called much higher than No. 224 overall. Despite a stellar career with the Tigers, Jay Ratliff was not picked until the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft, when the Cowboys came calling for the defensive lineman.

During his time at Auburn, Ratliff began his career as a tight end, but was quickly moved to the defensive side of the ball as a sophomore. He began as a defensive player coming off the edge, but was then moved to the inside, where he became a dominant force in the best conference in college football.

The issue with Ratliff was that he was considered undersized, which is the reason he dropped so far in the draft. Ratliff was a rotational player for the Cowboys early in his career, but in 2007, he was named the team’s starting nose tackle. He became the best nose tackle in football, racking up 7.5 sacks in 2008, making his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

Ratliff became a dominant player for the Cowboys, making it to four straight Pro Bowls, while being named a First-Team All-Pro during the 2009 season. Not bad for someone who nearly went undrafted.

His tenure with the team ended unceremoniously, as there was some bad blood between him and management. That being said, when he was on the field, he proved to be well worth the 224th overall pick.