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Cowboys Mailbag: February 28, 2012

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

Ben Berry - Philadelphia, PA: The Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe had a great combine. What are the chances of the Cowboys drafting him in the first round? Would they pass on him because of Ratliff?

Rob: Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of the combine – it has its place in the evaluation process, but I'd rather judge a guy on how he plays actual football - I'd be leery of players who dramatically improve their stock based on a workout. Poe was fairly productive at Memphis but he wasn't dominant. Based on his combine scores, he certainly has the physical tools to do so, and the move-Ratliff-to-end contingent wants a guy just like this: huge (346 pounds) but athletic enough to make plays from the nose tackle spot. Jerry Jones didn't indicate defensive line would be a first-round priority, but you never know.

Josh: I'd hope Ratliff wouldn't stop them from picking a potential difference-maker at nose tackle. Personally, I think Ratliff would be just as good at end, if not better, and I think a bigger, athletic nose tackle would be ideal for this defense. Now, the Cowboys have to figure out if this guy can actually play, or if he's just a workout warrior. If he can play, they need to think long and hard about bringing him in. The workout in and of itself is convincing.

Hussein Chaytou - Dearbourn Heights, MI: How much of the defense's problems would be fixed if Bruce Carter became a stud this coming season? Would his speed mask a lot of the other shortcomings?

Rob: Inside linebacker is one of several spots that must be addressed, particularly if Bradie James and/or Keith Brooking aren't back. They drafted Carter and Sean Lee with an eye toward getting rangier and more athletic at those two positions. Carter is a converted safety with really good speed and range for ILB. If he develops like the Cowboys hope, it's not a total mismatch when a tight end (think Patriots) gets matched up on him.

Josh: I think the biggest positive effect would be in pass coverage. Bradie James and Keith Brooking were fine against the run, but just don't have the athleticism anymore to cover tight ends. Imagine if Carter were as good in coverage as Sean Lee.

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