There seems to be a lot of misconceptions and–dare I say–anger afloat concerning the Chiefs first round draft pick NT Dontari Poe. I think the biggest misconception in currency is that the only reason Dontari Poe got 1st round attention is because he posted eye-popping combine numbers. Put differently, because he performed so strongly in Indy, he was immediately labeled a “Workout Warrior,” and as a result, drew upon himself greater scrutiny, was assumed suspect for performing so well, and thus became increasingly relegated by many into the “destined to be a bust” category in typical knee-jerk, mob mentality fashion.
Please allow me to at least set the record straight on this one. Well before Dontari Poe made noise at the NFL Combine, the consensus view held that he was the best Nose Tackle prospect in this draft and almost universally assumed to be a 1st round draft candidate. In other words, the Combine did not transform Dontari Poe into a 1st round pick. It merely underscored an already popular sentiment that Poe’s physical impressiveness (is that a word?) combined with his elite speed and athleticism all pointed to a well-founded belief that Poe possessed the right tools to be a dominating force in the NFL. In this respect at least, Poe is not unlike a lot of 1st round prospects: either you believe or you don’t.
For the record, I had Poe as the Chiefs’ 1st round draft pick in the mock draft that I posted way back on March 15th, well before the Combine. I’m happy and proud to admit that I’ve been on the Poe bandwagon ever since and fully expect to see him develop into a very scary, disruptive force under the talented guidance of Romeo Crennel and co. Add to that with the fact that Crennel was absolutely gushing about landing Poe, which highly suggests to me that Romeo Crennel is going to make it his personal mission to see that Poe succeeds. To that end, I think we can all agree that Crennel is anything but an idiot when it comes to identifying defensive talent and especially when it comes to coaching defensive linemen. Crennel now has his guy, so I say let’s respect what RAC brings to the party and embrace this pick until given reason to feel otherwise.
Nose Tackle has been the most pressing need for the Chiefs defense ever since they converted to the 3-4 scheme. In my opinion, Poe’s size, strength, and quickness fit very closely to what you look for in a zero technique. I know it’s been said a million times over, but for this position, the ability to occupy multiple blockers and collapse the pocket is way more important than just racking up tackles and sacks. In other words: don’t let Dontari Poe’s lack of stats and lack of post-season recognitions convince you that he won’t be put in a position do exactly what he needs to do to make the Chiefs’ defense once again feared by all.
I also think that Crennel responded to the “lack of production” argument in a very direct and comprehensive way. He pointed out that Poe, while at Memphis, was asked to be a “jack of all trades,” essentially playing/covering all positions on the DL and was thus never really put into a position where he could be the master of one. This simply confirms what I already believed about Poe’s college football experience. He worked under multiple coaches within an inferior, talent-deprived league without any kind of real support around him or meaningful guidance above him. The situation and opportunity for Poe has now taken a dramatic turn for the better. Have faith.
On a slightly different level, I also find this pick absolutely fascinating and it says a few things to me.
First off, Scott Pioli is not cut entirely of “game tape” cloth when it comes to the NFL draft, as many seem to believe. On the surface at least, it would seem that in Poe’s case, that “game tape” was barely a consideration (unless position versatility became the deciding factor, but I rather doubt that to be the case). While one can find examples of Poe flashing greatness, there is not really some great body of work one can point to. Again, I have to go back to what I just I said – Pioli and Crennel’s evaluation suggest that they must see in him an Indy racer that, to date, has only been taken out in a quiet cul-de-sac by a student driver.
Secondly, whether you love it or hate it, this selection is anything but boring. It is, echoing the words of Big Matt, a “swing for the fences” approach by Pioli. I don’t see how anyone can’t help but love that. As much as I personally wanted Poe to be the selection, I didn’t actually think it would happen because I figured that despite Poe’s high upside, his apparent lack of college level production would ultimately dump him into Pioli’s “way too risky” bin. This pick now tells me that Pioli indeed has some real gambler in him; this pick, were it to fail, will no doubt put Pioli’s neck square on the chopping block.
Thirdly, Scott Pioli must really respect Romeo Crennel’s knowledge of the game, ability to develop talent and overall input when it comes to player assessment. I just have a hard time seeing this pick as happening without RAC saying, in a very large way, “that’s the one guy I want.” I am sure we’ll probably never know if, given the choice between Kuechly and Poe, which the Chiefs’ would have preferred, but Crennel’s enthusiastic response to this pick seems to suggest that Poe was quite likely the Chiefs’ number one target going in, at least as far as realistically obtainable players go.
Additional reflections on the draft so far:
I was really surprised to see 4 QBs taken in the first round, but I at least understand the reasoning behind those moves.
I was equally surprised to see only 4 WRs in the 1st round. Back in March, because this position was far and away the most in need for teams around the league, I predicted that 6 would be off the board by the end of the 1st round. Albeit the fact that 4 1st rounds WRs is (I believe) more than we’ve seen in recent years, it is a(n upward) trend that I fully expect to see continue for the foreseeable future.
I’m really excited about our 2nd round prospects. The available day two talent in this year’s draft seems quite good. Moreover, round 2 seems like a can’t-miss opportunity for the Chiefs to upgrade the roster in a significant way. Indeed, coming away with any of the following players, in no particular order would put a big smile on my face:
WR Stephen Hill
WR Reuben Randle
WR Mohammed Sanu
C/G Peter Konz
OT/G Cordy Glenn
G Amini Silatulo
CB Janoris Jenkins
TE Dwayne Allen
TE Coby Fleener
That’s my Double Take Addicts.
What’s your take?