Dontari Poe Struggling; Breaking Down the Kansas City Chiefs Other Options at NT

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 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

According to Gregg Rosenthal of, who cites a report from the Kansas City Star, Dontari Poe is struggling to make a good impression at training camp.

That's not great news for the Kansas City Chiefs, who need their 2012 first-round draft pick to quickly master the fundamentals of anchoring a 3-4 defense. Romeo Crennel's base front demands a dominant space-eater who can draw and occupy double teams.

On paper at least, Poe fits that bill. He has the ideal physical requirements for the modern expectations of the position. Standing 6'5" and weighing 350 pounds, ought to give Poe all he needs to be a stout force in the middle.

The problem appears to be technique, with both Rosenthal and the Star's Adam Teicher, quoting Poe's difficulty grasping the fundamentals of pro-level defensive play. The nose tackle has to be the focal point of Crennel's traditional, 2-gap 3-4 base front.

A true playmaker at the position was the one thing missing from a talented Chiefs defense at the end of the season. However, the position is notoriously one of the toughest to learn and one of the most demanding roles in the game.

Some teething problems are naturally to be expected, particularly in camp. However, with the season exactly one month away, the Chiefs need Poe to adapt quickly.

According to Teitch, 2011 practice squad member Anthony Toribio is heading the depth chart. Crennel has the expertise to turn the unheralded 6'1" 315-pounder into a starter, but even if he did, it's hard to imagine Toribio being a significant upgrade on last season's starter Kelly Gregg.

Then there is 2011 sixth-rounder Jerrell Powe. Despite his massive frame, Powe contributed nothing during his rookie campaign, appearing in only one game.

One interesting option could be to move Glenn Dorsey to nose tackle. Dorsey doesn't really fit the mould of a 2-gap defensive end, but at 6'1" has the ideal size and leverage of a true nose tackle.

Crennel has worked with lighter and quicker nose tackles during his career, including Erik Howard and Jason Ferguson. Dorsey would give the Chiefs a more active player in the middle, with the flexibility to slant and slide effectively in run defense.

Of course these scenarios are only offered in the event that Poe's struggles continue. He has the time to get better, but Chiefs fans should pay close attention to his performances during preseason.