Why wasn't Ratliff's replacement drafted?

IRVING, Texas -- Of all the things that don't make much sense about the Jay Ratliff saga, one really stands out.

If this injury was as serious as Ratliff's agent says, why the heck didn't the Cowboys address their need for a defensive tackle in the draft?

You'll recall that Jerry Jones, who was giddy about Ratliff's potential in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme, called the defensive line a position of strength. That was a large part of his explanation for passing on Sharrif Floyd -- the fifth-ranked player on Dallas' draft board -- in the first round.

That decision to trade down actually looks pretty good in hindsight, given the contributions of center Travis Frederick and receiver Terrance Williams, the two players the Cowboys selected with the picks acquired in the deal with the San Francisco 49ers. But the Cowboys not addressing defensive tackle at all in the draft is especially head-scratching considering the claim made by agent Mark Slough after Ratliff's release.

"Well, I didn't have the benefit of the information that we've got today when we were making those decisions," Jones said. "I'm just saying we didn't have the benefit. Don't read anything into that. You're talking Monday morning quarterbacking. Hindsight."

Actually, it was a subject of much discussion during draft weekend. At best, Ratliff was an aging defensive tackle who was coming off an injury-plagued season.

Jones also referred to "differences of opinion" about Ratliff's injury. He didn't go into details about what those were, but it's clear that the Cowboys' medical staff didn't believe that Ratliff would need a full year to recover from his December surgery.

If the Cowboys knew that, they wouldn't have ignored defensive tackle during the draft, right?

"Oh, we don't want to go back to draft day," coach Jason Garrett said. "There are a lot of different reason you make decisions for your football team. And we certainly felt good about the defensive linemen that we had on our team at that time available to us.

"Sometimes you can't anticipate injuries happening. We had a little bit of a rash of injuries starting with Tyrone Crawford, a player we feel can be a heck of a football player for us on that defensive line. We anticipated Anthony Spencer being available to us. And at some point, we anticipated Jay Ratliff being available to us.

"But unfortunately none of those things have happened. So now we make our next best decisions and we handle the situation as well as we can."

For whatever reason, the Cowboys are stuck making the best out of a bad situation because they counted on Ratliff.