Romeo Crennel glided to the podium, looking sharp in a suit with a crisp white shirt and a Chiefs-red tie. He positively bounced on his seat.
He was beaming.
“Everybody doing all right,” he asked, surveying the room of reporters.
“Ohh…you don’t sound excited. I’m excited about the pick myself. Ok? Let you guys know that.”
While the Chiefs’ draft room was full of smiles and handshakes, the Chiefs draft party was full of, well, something different.
“Huge boos and cursing after pick,” said Arrowhead Addict senior staffer and Arrowhead Correspondent Randy Murawski who attended the draft party.
“And half the place went home,” he added.
It was a curious feeling.
When Scott Pioli came to Kansas City, the fans quickly learned that he’d be bringing a 3-4 defense with him. The Chiefs hired Clancy Pendergast to help them install the new offense and KC fans began doing research on the new base set. The research indicated that the most important piece of the 3-4 was the nose tackle.
From that moment on and throughout every draft that followed, Chiefs fans seemed absolutely positive that their team would soon be adding a nose. Yet nearly three drafts passed before the Chiefs drafted defensive tackle Jerrell Powe in the 5th round in 2011. While many of the fans were excited about Powe, the Chiefs obviously had their doubts. Powe was rarely active and hardly played his rookie season.
Yet when the time came last night, when the Chiefs finally drafted a nose tackle high, the fans were livid.
“We wanted a GOOD nose tackle, not a prototypical bust,” one AA reader commented via Twitter.
Poe is a guy most fans hadn’t heard of until the NFL Scouting Combine. His career numbers at Memphis were mediocre at best and it was not until he put up jaw-dropping numbers in Indy that he landed on the national radar.
According to Crennel, however, Poe was on the Chiefs’ radar long before his workouts in Indianapolis.
While Poe’s detractors complained that the DT was merely a workout warrior who played poorly against mediocre competition in college, a beaming Crennel told the KC media why he thought Poe’s college numbers were lackluster.
“He was outside, five technique, three technique, two technique, nose tackle,” said Crennel. “And he played them all during the course of every game. At 350 pounds, he played every snap in the game. And so if a guy who is that large can play every snap, without laying down and quitting, there’s something to him.”
“He’s a jack of all trades. It’s hard to be good at any one thing when you’re doing all those things.”
Despite Poe’s lack of experience playing in one spot, Crennel seemed extremely excited about the pick and he said he believes the Chiefs can get Poe ready to play nose in the NFL.
“We think that if we can get him and put him at this nose spot and let him play one position and let him learn all the techniques and the blocking schemes from that position, I think we’re gonna see a really good player.”
Crennel also things that Poe can be a disruption in the passing game by playing all three downs.
“I think that you can even see him on third down because he has that kind of ability that he can effect the QB in the pocket.”
“You watch the tape and he’s making moves because he gets into the pocket and he affects the QB because the ball’s coming out quick. He doesn’t get the sacks but he affects the QB. I think that what he will do for us is that he will help our pass rush. Particularly with guys coming off the edge, with Tamba, if you have somebody that can get into the middle of the pocket now the QB can’t step up, all right? If nothing else, Tamba will be a more productive rusher and end up with more sacks.”
The Chiefs need help in the pass rushing department. While Justin Houston showed promise, Tamba Hali is the team’s only consistent, reliable pass rushing threat. With Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey failing to get pressure on QB’s when given the chance, the Chiefs needed a defensive lineman that could get a consistent push. Since Dorsey and Jackson have so much value in the running game, finding help at NT was a logical choice.
The Romeo Crennel that took the podium Thursday night did not look like a coach who had just had a player he didn’t want shoved onto his lap by a controlling GM. He looked like a child who just opened up a rather large package with a rather shiny bicycle in it on Christmas morning.
Excited or no, however, Crennel said he was not prepared to hand Poe the starting job on day one.
“I never let rookies be the starter,” said Crennel. “When Eric Berry came I didn’t make him a starter. He had to go out there and show me something first so Poe is going to have to do the same.”
A reporter mentioned that Berry was running with the first team after only one practice.
“That’s all it took,” Romeo said laughing.
The Chiefs likely know it will take more than one day for Dontari Poe, but as long as the rookie is ready come September, the Chiefs could be well on their way to having a top five defense.