According to a report from Brian McIntyre at NFL.com, the Kansas City Chiefs have reached a deal with first-round draft choice Dontari Poe. The deal is rumored to be valued at $11.3 million guaranteed over four years.
The former Memphis standout was the only true nose tackle taken in the draft's first round after he wowed scouts with an impressive combine showing.
The hulking interior lineman showcased athleticism and range that defied his 6'3", 346-pound frame. The Chiefs are hoping the massive tackle can translate that unique combination to the pro level.
Head coach Romeo Crennel will be counting on Poe to solidify his 3-4 front. Since taking over the Chiefs defense in 2010, Crennel has used three different nose tackles, with varying degrees of success.
During his first year, Crennel alternated journeymen Shaun Smith and Ron Edwards. Last season, dependable veteran Kelly Gregg was tasked with holding the middle.
Kansas City's rush defense ranked 14th overall in 2010. That performance dipped in 2011, resulting in a 26th overall league ranking.
Much of that may be due to playing run-heavy teams like the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders twice and opponents shying away from a talented secondary. However, the Chiefs still need to get stronger and more dynamic in the middle.
Darren McFadden, Willis McGahee and Ryan Mathews all play in the AFC West and the schedule also includes games against the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers. That means the Chiefs will remain a stop-the-run-first defense in 2012, despite the presence of Peyton Manning in the division.
Crennel's traditional, two-gap 3-4 is built upon being able to stuff the run without dropping a safety down into the box. Poe's size and power can prove crucial in such a scheme. Getting him in time for the start of training camp is great news for the Chiefs.