Ah-hah! There's one:
Couple three years ago I was on the couch watching a Cowboys’ game with my brother. He bemoaned another loss by summing up our desperation thusly:
“Ratliff?! Some dude named Ratliff just made a tackle. Who the heck is Ratliff?! Gawd, we are so lame!”
Back then “Ratliff?!” was No. 66, a 7th-round afterthought from Auburn. These days – though he’s one of the few Cowboys you probably wouldn’t recognize walking down the street – Jay Ratliff is the starting nose tackle and one of the Cowboys’ best defensive lineman, if not one of their best overall players.
I just finished watching Cowboys-Bengals again and there he was – acting all savagely in his No. 90 – tossing aside the center, slamming the running back for a loss and bellowing a primal scream right in the grill of Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer.
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Ratliff has not only beat out Tank Johnson for the starting job, but he has 20 tackles and three sacks to totally justify his new six-year, $20 million contract. Only 6-4 and around 290, Ratliff is several Happy Meals smaller than your prototypical nose guard. But his quickness and agility -- along with surprising strength -- seemingly allow him to get comfy in opponents' backfield on a weekly basis.
Not bad for a 7th-round draft choice, the 224th player selected in 2005.
But, come to think of it, seven has always been pretty decent for Dallas drafts. My ranking of the Top 7 7th-Rounders in Cowboys' History:
1. Rayfield Wright, Fort Valley State ’67 2. Bob Hayes, Florida A&M ‘64 3. Mike Hegman, Tennessee State ’75 4. Patrick Crayton, NW Oklahoma ’04 5. Leon Lett, Emporia State ’91 6. Jay Ratliff, Auburn ’05 7. Brock Marion, Nevada-Reno ‘93 – Richie Whitt