The Curious Case of Dontari Poe

July 9th, 2012
Dontari Poe Chiefs

Dontari Poe, the Sponge - soaking up Anthony Pleasant's craftsmanship. (Photo: US Presswire)

KCCD Editor:  Jinx Allessio

Many assumed the Chiefs would address the nose tackle position sometime in the 2012 NFL Draft.  The Chiefs interior defense had performed woefully versus the run and rarely was a source of pressure on the quarterback.  

The need for an interior presence was paramount and the Chiefs made the right pick with Dontari Poe.  

There were those who had felt differently about the selection of Dontari Poe where as I had supported the selection months before the draft.  Where did he fit in a 3-4 defense? What had he done in college to warrant a first round grade? Did his stock soar after a performance of the ages at the combine?  Why did he not have dominant numbers against weaker competition?  

The number of questions in regards to the selection of Dontari Poe resembled that of his bench press performance in Indianapolis.

Early in the 2011 college football season I had the privilege of watching Dontari Poe versus Southern Methodist University.  After watching the game several times nothing stood out about Dontari’s play, but there were plenty of reasons why.  

Dontari was limited;  he was double and triple teamed, used in peculiar roles that didn’t fit his skill set.  What I noticed most about that game was that Dontari was given a job, and he did it.   He played almost every position along the defensive line, 9-technique, 7-technique, 5-technique and so on.  

The fact he played approximately 90% of the defensive snaps proved to me he can be more than a 1 down linemen.  He did not have the eye popping stat line that would lead someone to project Dontari to be a 1st rounder.

A new approach was needed to evaluate Dontari.  In effort to revolutionize the evaluator’s glossary without butchering the English language a word was created to emphasize Dontari’s abilities and how they would translate to the next level.  Projectability. What is this term that cannot be found in Webster’s Dictionary?

The use of the word potential must be discarded before truly having the ability to define projectability.  In a vacuum, almost every early round prospect has the ability to become a 10 year starter and future Pro Bowler.  I had to strip myself of this archaic way of thinking during the evaluation process of Dontari Poe   Using that narrow minded direction it would be easy to project Dontari Poe to be the next Haloti Ngata.

When projecting how Dontari Poe will translate to the NFL their are circumstances that would play a factor in his success.  The situation in which he was being drafted, the coaching staff, the scheme and the teammates around him are a few that need mentioning.

The Chiefs base defense is a two gap 3-4 and the subpackage uses a two man front.  Dontari Poe can play in both defenses including DE and NT in the base defense.  The Chiefs defense is evolving in responses to the current personnel and roster configuration.   I am predicting that the Chiefs end up spending more than 50% of their defensive snaps in the subpackage in 2013.

The coaching staff, mainly Romeo Crennel and Anthony Pleasant, have very good history with wiping  players slate clean and teaching them the fundamentals of the two gapping system.  They took a penetrating 3 technique defensive tackle who some thought he could potentially be the next Warren Sapp and transformed him in to one of the best run stuffing 3-4 DE’s in the NFL.

The Chiefs need to take that tabula rasa approach with Dontari Poe.  He needs to start over.  He must take in the teaching of Romeo and Anthony pair that with the experiences Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson to develop in to the impact three down linemen that he will become.  

The projectability of Dontari takes in to consideration those other factors beyond his play on the field, preparation and effort.  Dontari has the base skill set with the physical prowess rarely seen before but he needs to be moldable.  The ability to be coached is not as tangible of an attribute like speed or strength.  As he did in college, he will be given tasks during practices, games and in the weight room.  Dontari will achieve success taking these tasks one at a time.  One snap at a time.

Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, Dontari Poe, Glen Dorsey, Romeo Crennel

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