Memphis' Dontari Poe is one of the more intriguing prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft class. He only really started to make a name from himself after his excellent showing at the combine. His workout numbers contributed to some evaluators projecting him as a top-10 prospect.
Poe is a talented player with plenty of upside, but there are some holes in his game. Franchises must look closely at every prospect and work to decide where they fall on their board. An easy way to evaluate a prospect is to look at his strengths and weaknesses.
Dontari Poe used the NFL combine to turn some heads with his athleticism. At 6'4", 346 pounds, he ran an impressive 4.98 40-time. This type of quickness for a man of his stature is very rare, and has evaluators raising Poe up their draft boards.
Poe doesn't only have good quickness, but he also possesses excellent strength. He posted a combine high with 44 reps on the bench press. This number shows that he spent time in the weight room working to improve.
Ultimately, Poe's athleticism means that he has the potential to develop into a dominant force. It also gives him position versatility, as he can line up at several spots along the defensive line. His primary position will be at nose tackle, but he can also rotate in and play some three- and five-technique.
In order for a defensive lineman to make an impact, they need to have good awareness. This means they must be able to anticipate the snap, locate the football and diagnose post-snap information. Dontari Poe really struggles with his feel for the game.
Poe is routinely the last person out of his stance, which makes his explosive first step useless. Snap awareness isn't something that is easily attainable, but focusing on the tendency of the quarterback will help. Without improving this area of the game, Poe will struggle to penetrate the pocket and make an impact.
Once he gets out of his stance, Poe typically shoots a gap or looks to engage the offensive line. However, his first move is rarely towards the football. This really limits his ability to make tackles, and ultimately his impact on the game.
Dontari Poe's future in the NFL will likely feature a role as a nose tackle, whether its in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. At 6'4" 346 pounds, Poe has the size and thick lower half needed to hold at the point of attack. He's a load of a player, and makes it really tough for offensive linemen to get movement.
His size is combined with good strength, evident by his 44 reps on the bench press. However, it's his natural bend and hand usage that helps him occupy blockers. Poe keeps a low pad level and remains balanced throughout the play. He does a good job getting inside hand placement and controlling the blocker.
Poe would fit best in a 3-4 scheme, as he helps keep the linebackers clean. His ability to occupy will ensure the linebackers can quickly flow to the football.
During the past season at Memphis, Dontari Poe only registered 33 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and one sack.
These numbers aren't very impressive, especially coming against the lower-level competition in Conference USA. His game tape just doesn't show enough game-changing plays to match up with his current draft stock.
Poe's limited production is due to his poor awareness, which I discussed in an earlier slide. He also doesn't do a good job closing on the ball carrier. Poe can get in range to make a tackle, but doesn't have second gear needed to close the deal.
These numbers only support my believe that Poe is a nose tackle only, and will disappoint if asked to play the three-technique position.
The NFL draft revolves around projecting a player's chance of succeeding in the NFL. Often, the most athletic players are the ones who find the most success. This is why players with great measurables tend to rise as the draft approaches. Dontari Poe is impacted by this fact, as there just isn't many players with this size and athleticism.
Coaches look at Poe and see a piece of clay they can mold into a dominant player. With the right coaching, Poe could develop into a Haloti Ngata-type difference maker. Potential and upside carry a lot of weight during draft season.
Watching Dontari Poe's performance on the field, it's apparent that he doesn't always give 100 percent effort. This might be conditioning problem or just an effort issue, and something teams will need to determine through the interview process.
The difference between an average defensive lineman and a star is the amount of effort given.
This concern is even more of an issue because so much of Poe's value is tied to his potential. A player who doesn't work hard will never reach his full potential.
With that being said, it's not like Poe is always playing at half speed. However, any sort of motor issues are cause for concern.