In our annual 32 picks in 32 days CSNPhilly.com mock draft, we select one player each day until the start of the NFL draft on April 26.
11. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis, 6-4346
The Chiefs could go in a few different directions. They need an upgrade at offensive tackle, but none of the tackles still on the board is worth taking this high. They could use a running back with Jamaal Charles coming off an injury, but none of the remaining backs is worth the 11th pick.
Were going to the other side of the ball and thats never a bad idea when the head coach is a defensive guy like Romeo Crennel. He is a 3-4 coach who likes big, physical guys up front and they dont come any bigger than Dontari Poe, the massive nose tackle from Memphis.
Poe would have been a first round pick anyway, but he vaulted himself to the top of many draft boards with his showing at the NFL combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in an eye-popping 4.89 seconds and cranked out 44 reps in the bench press (225 pounds) to lead all participants. His numbers had scouts doing double and triple takes.
With that combination of size, strength and speed, Poe is a perfect fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense and the Chiefs could use some help there with Kelly Gregg slowing down at 35. Their run defense ranked 26th last season so getting a younger, more active wide body in the middle would make a big difference.
Crennel could see Poe filling the role that Haloti Ngata plays so well for Baltimore: a big, dominating inside force that takes up two gaps and allows the linebackers to run free. As he demonstrated at the combine, Poe has all the tools.
There is, however, a concern. If Poe is this big, this strong and this fast, why didnt he make more plays in college? Last season, he had 33 tackles and one sack in 12 games. He didnt play as fast as he times (he wasnt especially quick off the ball) and he was on the ground a lot for a guy with his strength. He was fooled and out of position too much.
Poe is seen by some scouts as a boom or bust guy. He could be another Ngata or he could be just another big guy who fizzles out. I just think Crennel, who is a very good defensive line coach -- thats where he made his reputation as an assistant under Bill Parcells -- will find Poes potential too good to pass up.
E-mail Ray Didinger at email@example.com