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Cowboys Mailbag: February 24, 2012

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

Derek Wilson - New York, NY: Why is the organization so adamant in keeping Jay Ratliff at nose tackle year after year?

Rob: Fair question. I think it's because he adds something unique as a pass rusher from that position. The run defense has been pretty solid all these years despite not having a "traditional" nose tackle in there (translation: big and sloppy like Ted Washington). And, Rob Ryan does move him around the formation a little bit, the most obviously instances being on four-man nickel downs. He doesn't always face double-teams, but you can argue all that pounding in the middle of the line wears him down some as the season wears on.

Josh: Because he's been successful in there, and a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. As he gets older, though, I think you risk losing the bird in the hand. He had knee trouble this year, and needed elbow surgery in the offseason before 2010. I think he's wearing down, and his stats say the same thing. If nothing else, I think the Cowboys need to cut back on his snaps a bit, saving him for third down situations and the fourth quarter.

Thomas Sessions - Springfield, IL: What position would have to be dry at No. 14 to possess the Cowboys to trade down?

Rob: Probably corner or a spot in the front seven, like a top defensive linemen or outside linebacker. This should be, and needs to be, a defensive-minded draft. Then again, depending on what the Cowboys do in free agency, drafting a stud guard like David DeCastro fills a need, too.

Josh: It's a good question that I'm not sure has an answer. Considering the quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive tackles that are projected to go ahead of them, I would be shocked if the Cowboys didn't get a good shot at somebody in a position they need to upgrade.

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