Why Are the Kansas City Chiefs Publicly Babying First-Round Pick Dontari Poe?

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 26, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 13:  Ethan Johnson #70 and Dontari Poe #92 of the Kansas City Chiefs work with defensive coach Anthony Pleasant during the Kansas City Chiefs minicamp on May 13, 2012 at the Chiefs Training Facility in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

The minicamp and OTA hype can get very deep in May and June. The term "coachspeak" and phrase "everyone looks good in shorts" get thrown around a lot. The bottom line is that we should feel free to ignore hyperbolic praise of rookies, especially first-round rookies, because the team has an incentive to make its biggest decision of the draft look like a good one.

So what does it mean when a team tries to make statements that sound like praise, but in reality are the kind of "attaboys" you give to a child?

Defensive line coach Anthony Pleasant applauded Poe for working hard on the Chiefs official site. He stressed that Poe has to continue to work hard and push himself because he is "unique." According to Pleasant, he emphasized film study to Poe, "saying this is how you need to play and this is your technique."

What rookie that expects to make the team doesn't work hard in the spring? Why is there any question whether Poe will continue to work hard and push himself? How can a football player get this far in his career without absorbing the lesson of the importance of film study?

It sure sounds like Poe was allowed to do whatever he wanted at Memphis, and Pleasant is easing him into the never-ending expectations of an NFL player's total dedication by giving him a head pat for actually trying.

Head coach Romeo Crennel's praise of Poe for showing up to minicamp without a contract was equally empty. Unsigned first-round picks routinely show up for their team's minicamp. Crennel's statement via Pro Football Talk that "it says (Poe) wants to make the team" and "he wants to learn the system" is another example of praise that would sound more appropriate for a Pop Warner player.

Isn't making the team and learning the system the bare minimum expectation of a first-round pick? 

How about this statement from Poe about his plans during the break before training camp:

 “A lot of working out. A lot of staying out of trouble and that's it. I'm trying to keep reading this playbook just so I can know how everything is.” 

Staying out of trouble and working out is, once again, the bare minimum expectation of a professional. It would be nice if Poe committed more to learning the playbook than "trying to keep reading" it over the break.

Of course, he probably knows that if he even opens it during the next month without someone telling him to, the Chiefs will say how happy they are with his dedication and work ethic.