Last year, in the locker room after the first Eagles-Cowboys matchup on Sunday night, Eagles center Jason Kelce was answering questions about the game, and he said that Jay Ratliff was the best player he ever had to block. Kelce was a rookie at the time playing in just his 7th game as a pro, but I think we can probably all agree that Kelce’s words are still a pretty solid endorsement that Ratliff can still play. I’m certainly not suggesting here that Ratliff can’t still play at a high level.
However, Ratliff turns 31 in August, and over the past six seasons, including the playoffs, Ratliff has played 98 games, missing just two. He did so playing NT in the Cowboys’ 3-4 front at a weight far lower than normal for his position. In fact, the average weight for the projected 3-4 starting NT’s around the league is 325 lbs. Ratliff is listed at 285 lbs, or 40 lbs lower than the average:
Ratliff is an incredibly strong player for his size, and has elite quickness for the position. But as a NT, constantly facing double teams week in and week out, it’s probably pretty fair to say that Ratliff’s body has accumulated significant wear and tear. The numbers say that Ratliff’s production has slipped the past two seasons:
Ratliff was an animal in his prime, and while he remains one of the best NT’s in the league, the arrow is probably pointing down.