Dontari Poe has very few peers at his position

Peter Aiken

The Chiefs defensive tackle has showcased incredible stamina and skill in 2013.

When the Kansas City Chiefs first selected Dontari Poe in the 2012 NFL Draft, Scott Pioli took some hits for the risk involved. The former Memphis defensive tackle consistently faced subpar competition on a losing team, and it was clear that his draft stock was largely based on his performance at the NFL Combine, affectionately known as the "underwear olympics".

More often than not, a player's game tape shows who he really is, and the term "bust" seems to be applied to guys with impressive measureables but nothing more. Yet Pioli insisted that he got his man and that Poe could be the anchor for the 3-4 in the way that Casey Hampton or Haloti Ngata had done the dirty work up front for the feared Steelers and Ravens defenses over the last few years.

Pioli deserved to be fired, no doubt, but he was right on target with his analysis of what Dontari Poe would become.

Pioli deserved to be fired, no doubt, but he was right on target with his analysis of what Dontari Poe would become. In his second year, Poe has quickly moved into the spotlight among the other elite defensive tackles in the NFL. Ndamukong Suh earns the spotlight with his behavior on and off the field, and such charisma will keep the Lions' talented lineman in the spotlight beyond his peers. But Poe belongs right alongside Suh, Ngata and Geno Atkins in the conversation for greatest at his position.

Thus far in the 2013 season. only 11 defensive tackles have played at least 75 percent of a team's defensive snaps. Dontari Poe has played in 91.7 percent of the Chiefs defensive snaps. In terms of actual snap count, Poe is at 390, an incredible 31 snaps ahead of second place (a tie between Suh and Sen'Derrick Marks). Here's a quick look at how integral Poe is to KC's defensive line and how he compares with other leaders in overall snap count:

Name Team Snap Count Total Team Def. Snaps Defensive Participation %
Dontari Poe KC 390 425 91.7%
Ndamukong Suh DET 359 428 83.8%
Sen'Derrick Marks JAC 359 421 85.2%
Jurrell Casey TEN 347 408 85.0%
Geno Atkins CIN 339 409 82.9%
Nick Hayden DAL 326 436 74.8%
Jason Hatcher DAL 317 436 72.7%
Marcell Dareus BUF 317 486 65.2%
Gerald McCoy TB 317 360 88.1%
Haloti Ngata BAL 300 420 71.4%

It should be immediately clear that Poe is the only player playing over 90 percent of his team's defensive snaps. For a player who is 6-3, 346 lbs., it is a tremendous testament to the stamina and athleticism of Poe that he lines up as often as he does.

Earlier in the year, Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton described Poe as a man with "unusual quickness, unusual conditioning, unusual change of direction for a big man." As a 23-year-old still learning the nuances of both his position and opposition, it's not a stretch to say that Poe could become one of the greatest defensive tackles of his generation.

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