Dontari Poe needs a rest


I think every Kansas City Chiefs fan with an ounce of common sense is able to see that Dontari Poe is a monster. United States president Barrack Obama, talking about Poe during a guest appearance on the B. S. Report, said “I don’t know what you do if a guy like that hits you.”

The 6’3, 346 -pound beast was drafted 11th-overall in 2012 and has now become a cornerstone of the Chiefs defense alongside Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Sean Smith. His impressive size and strength (he bench-pressed 40 reps at the NFL Combine) is only surpassed by his surprising speed and quickness off the snap. He ran an inexplicably quick 4.98 40-yard dash to wow many NFL scouts, and looks to be a stalwart for the Chiefs defense for many years to come.

In his rookie year, Poe was drafted to challenge the underwhelming duo of Anthony Toribio and Jerrell Powe. However, after injury sidelined Toribio, Poe proceeded to start all 16 games and the Kansas City Star named him as the team’s Rookie of the Year. Poe further improved during an impressive sophomore year where he started in 15 regular-season games (he was rested against the San Diego Chargers in Week 17) and that dreadful night in Indianapolis. With an overall PFF rating of +15.4, Poe went on to establish himself as one of the best nose tackles, not only in Kansas City, but in the NFL.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I worry that Poe’s productivity late in the season will continue to tail off if Reid can’t give the lad a rest. God knows he deserves one.”

This last season was Poe’s most impressive, starting all 16 games and recording 6.5 sacks with 43 tackles. He also managed to achieve 18 quarterback hurries with a +2.0 pass rush grade for the season, attracting double teams throughout the season. Poe’s interior presence was a key reason for Justin Houston’s record 22-sack season, and moving forward, I believe Poe will become even more of a danger to opposing offenses.

There is, however, a major doubt in the back of my mind. Are the Chiefs wearing Poe out before he’s even begun?

A quick look at the number of snaps that Poe has played in his three seasons shows that he has borne the weight of a heavy workload due to a lack of feasible alternatives at the position. In his rookie campaign, Poe played a total of 757 snaps, a snap percentage of 74.7%, a high amount of snaps for a rookie. For example, Aaron Donald of the St. Louis Rams played 724 snaps; a snap percentage of 67.2%.

Poe’s workload increased in his sophomore season. He played 1,004 snaps in the regular season, the most of any nose or defensive tackle in the league that season; 19 snaps ahead of Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy and 91 more than Ndamukong Suh. Quite frankly, that is an insane amount of snaps for any nose tackle to face. In 2014, Poe again topped the number of snaps at his position with 966 snaps. He was also 91 snaps clear of the next defensive tackle, Suh.

Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston is congratulated by nose tackle Dontari Poe. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, Poe is a very talented, three-down nose tackle with the ability to play a high percentage of snaps without suffering from injury. However, is this number of snaps damaging his productivity? Looking at last season, Poe’s influence dropped significantly in the final stages of last season. In four of the final five games Poe received a negative PFF grade, and struggled to overcome double teams like he did earlier in the season. I hope I’m wrong, but I worry that Poe’s productivity late in the season will continue to tail off in future years if Reid can’t give the lad a rest. God knows he deserves one.

Looking forward, every NFL fan knows that the draft is looming. The Chiefs have 10 picks, giving them a chance to significantly improve their roster. The offensive line, wide receiver, cornerback and inside linebacker are all pressing needs, but with the number of the picks available to Kansas City, I would like to see general manager John Dorsey look for a nose tackle in the later rounds.

What do you think, Chiefs fans? Would you be happy with drafting a nose tackle in the later rounds?