The Apologetic of Dontari Poe

After the Panthers picked Luke Kuechly at 9 I thought the Chiefs would for sure take David DeCastro at 11 if they couldn't trade down, if for no other reason than Scott Pioli likes proven production over "project" players. However, this can hardly be called a "surprise" pick.

[Author's note: This post isn't about where the Chiefs picked, it is solely about who they picked. Arguably, there wasn't a significant difference in talent between picks 6 (Mark Barron, S, Alabama) and 25 (Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama). So while I was surprised the Chiefs did not trade down, I don't see it as a major factor in who they took simply because the talent levels between prospects seemed nominal at best.]

Poe first burst (and yes, pun intended) into the public's collective conscience with his insane combine workout. I know a lot of you called him the gold medalist of the Underwear Olympics, and it's not entirely unfair. Poe was named to the 2011 All-Conference USA second team, not exactly the distinction you would want from your first round pick at number 11 overall. Until he combine he wasn't really talked about as a top-15 prospect, and was thought to be a fringe first rounder because of his size and athletic ability.

Poe, athletically, is a freak. There really is no denying that. Look at these combine results:

40-Yard Dash

3 Cone Drill

20-Yard Shuttle

Bench Press

Vertical Jump

Broad Jump

Player A







Player B







Player C







Player B, as many of you draft nuts probably know by now, is Poe. Player A, as I'm sure you guessed because they have been compared to each other since the combine, is Haloti Ngata. (I'll get to player C in a bit.) Now, I am not saying Poe will turn out to be Ngata. What I am saying is that he has all of the raw, physical tools to be able to turn out like Ngata. They have extremely similar builds (Poe is 6'3", 346 lbs, Ngata 6'4", 330 lbs.) and freakish athletic ability.

Let's go back to the "raw" word. The biggest knock on Poe - and it's a completely fair criticism - is that he didn't dominate in college, or really put up the kind of numbers you would like to see a top-11 pick in the draft. Now, the legitimate worry here is that he really was just the gold medalist of the Underwear Olympics - a physical freak who doesn't have the talent to play in the pros. I've seen numerous times in the various comments that you think he will be a bust simply because he should have dominated against inferior competition solely because of his size. But to say that he will be a bust simply because of his lack of production in college is not an entirely satisfying argument.

In looking at Poe, it really is critical to understand why Poe did not dominate in college. Romeo Crennel discussed precisely why he was not a dominate player in college:

He played every position along the line in the game. He's playing a 9-technique, he's playing a 7-technique, 5-technique, 3-technique, 1-technique, 2-technique and head up on the nose sometimes. He's a jack-of-all-trades so it's hard to be good at any one thing when you're doing all those things.

Scott Pioli chimed in specifically as to Poe's lack of production that shows up on a stat sheet:

A lot of the teams they played in their conference and non conference a lot of it is spread option, a lot of it is shotgun snap, ball is out right away. And for instance, in the passing least 49% of the snaps were literally plays that could not be deemed plays that would allow him to have production. So the ball's snapped, the QB gets it, the ball's out, it's a screen, it's a quick pass, so the ball's out right away. So it's one of these things for defensive linemen as we've seen with a lot of these spread offenses there's not an opportunity for them to apply pressure, for them to get a hit on the QB.

So Pioli and Crennel both understand very well why he did not produce on the stat sheet in college. According to Pioli, the amount of production, or lack thereof, is not as concerning to the Chiefs based on how the Chiefs want to use him. In college, Poe played everywhere across the defensive line. However, Crennel wants Poe to have a much more focused position with the Chiefs:

I think when we get him here and get him in one spot we'll see this guy improve and he'll be productive and be a good player.

But the Pioli admits the results won't be immediate:

He has the build and the mentality to 2-gap. One of the things we've learned over time for defensive linemen is it takes a certain type of mentality not only to be a 2-gap defensive lineman, but to be a 2-gap nose. Now he has played some 2-gap, not a whole lot of it, but he has the body type, the mentality. There's gonna be a bit of a learning curve here, just like there is with any DL who hasn't been a full time 2-gap. There will be a bit of a learning curve with him learning to play this specific technique. I've been around Romeo and Anthony Pleasant for a long time, Anthony played the position now coaches the position pretty darn well, and I've watched Romeo develop a lot of guys at this position, you know, as a 2-gap DL.

Remember player C from the combine results? Player C was Vince Wilfork. He was drafted by Pioli in New England who Crennel helped develop into a star DT. So I think what the Chiefs see in Poe is the potential to be a great 2-gap NT, but they also have the confidence they will be able to develop him to be that perennial pro-bowl player. All of the issues Poe has with his technique - disengaging from smaller, weaker blockers, playing with his pad level too high, needing to develop secondary pass-rush moves, etc. - are all things Crennel and Pleasant can coach him up on as a 2-gap NT.

A number of fans expressed dismay the Chiefs did not try to trade back later into the first round, and as it turns out they had those opportunities and passed in order to draft Poe. That speaks volumes about the confidence Pioli and Crennel have in Poe. But at the end of the day, the fact remains the Chiefs are taking a huge risk. Tyson Jackson has been a disappointment, at this point he's only a 2-down, run stuffing DE, and Glenn Dorsey hasn't developed into a pass rusher either. They need Poe to develop into a 3-down, pass-rushing NT; that's the only way they are going to get full value on this pick.

Ultimately, it's what Pioli and Crennel expect out of Poe. Crennel told Poe as much on the phone: "We're going to give you a great chance to compete, and I'm looking for you to play on all downs." Could Poe come in an be a bust? Absolutely. It's happened to players with much better pedigrees. But at the end of the day Crennel has the track record to be able to tap into Poe's potential and develop him into a star. And if they can, they've filled the Chiefs' biggest need for the next 10 years.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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