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Broncos Draft Prospects: DT Dontari Poe

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
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Well it's draft day, the colts go on the clock in about 6 hours from now, and rumors are swirling. One name that has been mentioned and mocked to us in the last 48 hours is Memphis DT, Dontari Poe. Mike Mayock, NFL Networks draft guru, mocked Poe to us at 25, in his first and only mock draft of the year. Poe attended Wooddale Highschool in Memphis Tennessee. Poe was only regarded as a 2 star prospect by coming out of High School. He attended Memphis University. During his career there he totaled 101 tackles, 21.5 for a loss, 5 sacks, 4 pass deflections and 4 forced fumbles.Poe earned Conference USA 2nd Team All Conference honors in 2011, Conference USA Honorable mention All Conference in 2010, and Conference USA All Freshmen in 2009.

On December 23rd 2011, Poe announced that he would forgo his senior season at Memphis to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Poe was invited to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine

  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.98 seconds
  • Bench Press: 44 reps(Top performer in his class)
  • Vertical Jump: 29.5 inches
  • Broad Jump: 105 inches
  • 3 Cone Drill: 7.90 seconds
  • 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.56 seconds
Poe is a big man who will likely improve a 3-4 defense working as their anchor inside at NT. His best attribute is his ability to occupy space inside and allow those on the second level to flow and make plays. He isn’t just a big man to hold two blockers, however, as he can use his strength to overpower most blockers at the collegiate level and also use his athletic ability to be a threat in the passing game and make plays around the ball. Poe has the build and athleticism to be picked late in the first round or near the top of the second.


STRENGTHS: Poe has a serious ability to eat up a double team. Strong lower body so that he can stabilize his position. His athletic ability and quickness force the use of a double team, and he can wreak havoc around the ball. Poe uses his strong hands to keep defenders at bay and throw them around to create opportunities. He is a consistent defender who combines size, strength, athletic ability, and the understanding of what it takes inside for himself and those around him to do their job.

WEAKNESSES: Poe can't do much else besides be an effective lane-clogger within the right scheme. He doesn't have the versatility to move outside to end in a 3-4, a trend that has been seen from many teams who like to get girth and athleticism on the edge of their line. He is not very quick off the ball, and although he is a good athlete for his size, he could struggle to create "splash" plays for himself early on at the next level, where he will likely be facing double teams and much stronger interior offensive lineman. has Dontari Poe as there 3rd ranked DT in the 2012 NFL Draft and their 19th overall player in the entire 2012 NFL Draft.

Pass rush: Flashes exciting burst off the snap to penetrate. Can slip through gaps with his get-off and is an intimidating force for quarterbacks to avoid. Shows some natural balance and lateral agility to break down and chase the quarterback but has only phone booth quickness overall and is quickly left behind by mobile/alert passers. Shows a rip and swim move, but neither is particularly effective. Relies often on a simple bull rush but it is only marginally productive due to the fact that Poe routinely stands up at contact, losing leverage and negating his own strength. Does not possess an adequate secondary move if his initial burst is contained. Too often struggles to disengage with blockers smaller and weakerthan him. Needs to do a better job of using his height to his advantage and present to the quarterback obstacles to throw around. Has only four passes defensed in his career, though to his credit three of them came in 2011.

Run defense: Shows the burst to split gaps and make the play on his own. Also has the ability to create a pile in the middle, even showing the ability to split the occasional double-team. However, is just as often blown off the ball due to his high pad level. Needs to do a better job of being the aggressor and tossing blockers aside to make the play rather than falling off blocks onto ballcarriers as they go by. Flashes good lateral agility to side-step blockers and can surprise you with his speed and effort in lateral pursuit. May struggle as a nose guard in the NFL due to shorter than ideal arms (31 5/8), especially considering his height. Good strength and balance to sit down, lock-out and create a pile, however, leading to possibilities inside and out (in the 3-4).

Explosion: Has an explosive burst off the line. Consistently among the first linemen moving at the snap. Generates power through his hips and can rock the offensive lineman back onto his heels with his initial surge. Gathers momentum quickly and can explode into the ballcarrier, showing the ability to separate the football (four forced fumbles over his career).

Strength: Possesses excellent weight-room strength, although it doesn't always translate onto his play due to his short arms and high pad level. Can wow you with his ability to push the pocket and drag down ballcarriers with just one arm but doesn't play with power consistently enough for a man with his talents.

Tackling: Surprisingly light on his feet and shows the ability to break down reasonably well to make the tackle in tight quarters against much smaller, quicker ballcarriers. Can knock ballcarriers to the ground with a good shove and latch-on, drag-down tackles while engaged, but also shows the ability to wrap securely, as well as enough explosiveness to force fumbles. Intangibles: Given a second-round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee. Voted Team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year by his teammates. If Poe had returned for his senior season he would have been playing for his third head coach in four years.

--Rob Rang

A scouting report on Dontari Poe, from the National Football Post:

What I like…

- A tall, well put together 350-pound lineman who carries his weight well and doesn't possess much soft flesh.

- Displays a physically put together lower half as well. Is strong through the base, legs and calves and honestly can play at 350. Has a Haloti Ngata type build.

- Is a monster in the weight room. Puts in the time off the field to get better/stronger.

- Showcases natural bend when sitting into his stance. Keeps his base down well off the football and can gain leverage initially due to pad level.

- Exhibits a "plus" first step for his size. Showcases the ability to get into opposing linemen quickly and keep his pad level down in the process.

- Demonstrates a natural snap through the hips and can simply overwhelm his man with the generated force/power he's' able to create into contact.

- Showcases the ability to keep his pad level down through contact when trying to knife his way into the backfield vs. the run game. With ease fights his way through contact.

- Is a bear to move inside, showcases "plus" natural power, can sit low into contact and with ease hold the point of attack.

- Displays some nimbleness as a pass rusher. Can use his foot quickness to change directions quickly in tight areas and push his way through contact once he gains a step.

- Exhibits a clever/concise spin move where he can slip blocks and get into the backfield in pass rushing situations.

- Demonstrates the power and flexibility to gain leverage and consistently push the pocket inside at the next level.

- Exhibits above average range for his size off his frame and will chase in pursuit.

- Displays good snap awareness for the most part and is routinely one of the first linemen firing off the ball.

- The upside with this guy is tremendous. Has the skill set to anchor a defense inside as a 34 or 43 nose.

- Seems like a hungry kid who is willing to put in the work and develop at his trade.

What I don't like…

- Doesn't take a positive first step off the football in either the run or pass game. Needs to do a better job maximizing his first step in order to reset the line of scrimmage, wastes too much motion.

- Needs to do a better job finding the football. Doesn't consistently decipher information quickly and put himself around the action.

- Needs to learn to extend his arms consistently at the point and use his hands better. Too often gets caught playing short armed into contact.

- Is forced to get upright through contact when trying to shed because he doesn't gain leverage and extend his arms well initially into the play.

- When trying to extend his arms initially into contact vs. the run game, he tends to get doubled over more at the waist and doesn't play with the same type of bend, causing him to struggle with balance/power through the play.

- Isn't a real sudden pass rusher. Showcases some nimbleness, but gets caught popping upright through contact when trying to avoid blocks, which limits his power.

- Doesn't possess a great burst once he gains a step when truing to close quickly on the football.

- Showcases the willingness to work in pursuit, but the motor will cool off at times.

- Hasn't ever been real productive because of his lacking technique and ability to consistently find the football. Is a boom or bust kind of player.

Impression: Has a rare physical skill set due to his combination of flexibility, power and get off burst. However, he's still learning the nuances of the position. If he's willing to put in the time, Poe can mature into one of the leagues better interior presences. Nevertheless, because he's raw his floor isn't overly high either.

From Mike Mayock

"The reason I like Poe is twofold: He’s a physical freak and he’s got a good motor. The problem is he’s just a very average player right now because he doesn’t know how to play the game of football."

A Scouting Report by Mocking The Drafts Dan Kadar:

Dontari Poe

6'5, 346 pounds | Defensive tackle | Memphis

Pass rush: Poe played mostly at the nose for Memphis, so his pass rush skills are unrefined. Isn't simply a power lineman who bull rushes to collapse the pocket. Likes to use a power and swift swim move when he's going after the passer. Needs to get better at getting his hands up to disrupt the passing window.

Pursuit/quickness: For his size, Poe has very good explosiveness and when his motor is running high, he fires off the snap well. However, Poe's effort is inconsistent and he won't play aggressively on every play. Needs to learn how to use his quickness better to split gaps. Closes in a hurry.

Run defend: Can rely solely on his power to play the run, but doesn't. Struggles to get off blocks at times. Has slightly short arms, which will hurt him in run defense. With his quickness and closing ability, Poe should be an adept run stopper in the NFL. Occupies multiple blockers well.

Strength/tackling: Poe is incredibly powerful coming out of college and won't need to add power to make it in the NFL. He closes on the ball carrier faster than you'd expect for a player his size. Can be a violent tackler when he's playing hard.

Technique: Raw in most technical areas. Doesn't protect his feet very well and is susceptible to chop blocks. Isn't always direct and will take false steps toward the ball carrier. Needs to recognize and diagnose faster. Gets stood up on contact.

Final word: The 6-foot-4, 346-pound Poe was a consistent force for Memphis the past three seasons, starting 30 of 35 games played and totaling 101 tackles and 21.5 tackles for loss. He did that predominantly playing over the nose in the Tigers' 3-4 formations, but he's also lined up at three- and five-technique. Due to injury, Poe has even lined up at outside the tackle after being urged to by coaches.

The issues for Poe are his consistency and technique. If an NFL team can light a fire underneath him and improve his shoddy technique, Poe could become the next Haloti Ngata.

A scouting report from, Jesse Bartolis:


6-4 346 pounds, 32″ arm length, 9 5/8″ hands

4.98 forty yard dash, 44 bench press reps, 29.5 inch vertical, 105″ broad jump, 7.90 3 cone drill, 4.56 20 yard shuttle


Absolutely huge…Unexpected athleticism for a man his size…Excellent strength has garnered a reputation as a guy who has impressive weight room strength…quick off the snap, but has conditioning issues…gets his hands up if he doesn’t get to the quarterback…Functional strength to hold up the point of attack and take on extra blockers…


Doesn’t play with great leverage, which must be improved…A little too heavy, it’s not all muscle…conditioning issues…not a top pass rusher at the N.F.l. level unless he gets in better shape and adds some moves…If he is this big, this fast, this strong why doesn’t he have top production?

Round Projection: 1st


Poe is not a name a casual draft follower will not be onto yet, but as soon as the pre-draft process rolls around everyone will know who this massive specimen of a man is. Poe is absolutely huge and has good athleticism to boot. He has an intriguing blend of size, strength, and athleticism. He is not going to make a ton of plays at the N.F.L. level, but he’s going to open up a lot of room for other players to make plays. His potential to play nose tackle also greatly boosts his draft stock. I project Poe as a 1st or second round pick more because of the position he plays and his upside, more so than his ability right now today. He has a lot of technical work to do to play with better leverage and learn how to beat double teams most consistently

His draft stock will depend a lot on the pre-draft process because he doesnt play a heavy slate of top competition. He’s competing with players like Josh Chapman and Alameada Ta’amu to be the first nose tackle taken off the board (my favorite of the three prospects is Te’amu)

NFLmocks preseason bio

Poe has the ability to be a dominant defensive tackle in the NFL, but what is the knock on most of these giant, 6’5″ 350 pound kids nowadays? They sometimes take plays off. That may be the case with Poe, but he is still a top ten defensive tackle heading into this year after two very productive years with the Memphis Tigers. Started all 12 games last year and finished the season with 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks to follow up a freshman season where he had seven tackles for loss, and two more sacks. He has already forced six fumbles in his Memphis career, and he should be one of the best defensive tackles coming out this year should he choose to do so. He is a massive gap clogger whose size indicates he is a perfect fit to play nose guard at the next level, but I think he is athletic enough to play in any scheme.

My Take: Dontari Poe is the project, the Boom or Bust type player. Has the size and athletic make up to be a beast, but has to learn to play in the NFL, instead of just getting by using his strength and size. I believe that our coaches, Coach Fox, and Coach Del Rio can mold Poe into a great player, but there's a risk involved. Poes Combine performance rose his stock big time, but it seems like it has cooled off and he could be available when we pick. It's possible Coach Fox could see Poe as his next Kris Jenkins.