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Cowboys Mailbag: April 11, 2012

/ Editor's Note: Each weekday,'s writers will field two questions from the fans. Click here to email your question now. **

Gary Smith - Canton, GA: Since the Cowboys seem to be in the mix for a few of these Alabama guys, what do you think of players coached by Nick Saban?

Rob: It's hard to generalize, but the defensive guys are as well-prepared as any prospects in the draft. Evaluation comes down to talent, work ethic, instincts – all those traits coaches look for in a player. But Saban basically runs a pro system and competes in the best conference in the country. There's not a huge jump to the pros.

Nick: That's a pretty general question. He's coached some studs that are great in the pros, he's coached some studs that aren't even in the pros. Having coached in the NFL, I think he's got a good understanding of not only getting players to help him win, but to get them prepared for the NFL as well. As for these guys right there, they seem to be NFL-ready but I bet some of these first-rounders out of Upshaw, Kirkpatrick, Richardson, Hightower and Barron won't pan out like we think.

Eric Walls - White Oak, TX: There's been a lot of talk here about drafting Dontari Poe and moving Jay Ratliff to end, but what makes you think Ratliff can succeed out there?

Rob: A personnel guy I trust says Ratliff is probably best-suited as a three-technique in a 4-3, not a five-technique in a 3-4. He doesn't have that Chris Canty-like frame that's ideal for the Cowboys' base 3-4 front, and that's probably why they won't move him. I do think he might be prone to wearing down at nose tackle over the course of a season – partially because of how hard he plays – but you can't point to last December because he was injured. And I don't buy that they need a Ted Washington nose tackle against the run, because this defense has always been pretty solid there. The main thing is he needs more pass rush help around him.

Nick: I think he'll succeed because he plays with a high-motor that allows him to compete at 290 pounds in the middle. Most guys should be 320-330 if not bigger. Yet, Ratliff makes it work. I think he'd be even more dynamic at end where he's facing tackles and tight ends. We all could be wrong on this but I don't think so.

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