Position: Defensive tackle
Measurements: 6’5” 350 pounds
Projection: 1st Round
In One Word: Confusing
Fantasy Value: N/A
Resembles: Haloti Ngata
Dontari Poe is one of the toughest guys to figure out in this year’s NFL draft. On the one hand he has all the physical skills that National Football League front office types love. He has the build of a top level defensive tackle. His numbers at the NFL Combine are impressive and he moves well for a man his size. He has been widely regarded as the best interior linemen in the draft. Poe wowed scouts at the combine with a number of talking heads saying his workout helped him more than any other prospect. That is what makes me nervous.
The fact that his combine workouts surprised scouts tells me they didn’t think much of him to start with. I am of the mind that I would rather see the results in full pads on the field on Saturday’s than in shorts in the controlled atmosphere of Indianapolis. Sure his combine numbers look good on paper, but is he really a guy who is ready to be a big time contributor on Sundays?
First of all, look at the teams he played against in college. Conference USA, while a nice league, is not on the same level as other major conferences. Poe was playing against teams like Austin Peay, Rice and Middle Tennessee State. I can’t imagine Poe went up against too many offensive linemen who are going to playing in the NFL next season.
Many have compared him to the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata, but even against second level competition, Poe didn’t put up impressive statistics. His high water mark for tackles was five and he only recorded one sack. Let me repeat that. He only recorded one sack, not just in his five tackle game, I am talking about one sack the entire season. Sacks and tackles aren’t always the best way to judge a defensive tackle, but that level of production is alarming.
Team production is no way to judge an individual player either, but Poe was no game changer in 2011. His defense gave up over thirty points eight times. That is not a direct reflection on Poe himself, but when talking about a potential top half of the first round prospect I for one would hope he made enough of an impact to keep an offense under forty points. The Tiger defense gave up 59, 47, 42, 41, 41 and 44 points during the season.
Poe is the classic case of what do you look at – combine results or on field results. At the combine he was a monster, but on the field – not so much. Even looking at the little bit of game film I could find, it was easy to miss him. He didn’t even seem to command a double team as often as you would think for a first round pick. That being said, in most mock drafts – including Gridiron Experts’ first mock - Poe is certain to go in round one, possibly to Kansas City. San Diego and Pittsburg would also make some sense.