When the Kansas City Chiefs used the 11th overall pick to select Dontari Poe out of Memphis in April, the alarms went off immediately. After all, Poe wasn’t able to dominate against inferior competition in college and seemingly only flew up draft boards because of an excellent showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But the Chiefs were clear immediately following the draft that their new nose tackle was their target all along with Pioli a fan long before the eye popping stats in Indianapolis. Poe would be given a chance to contribute as a three down player, head coach Romeo Crennel told the newest Chief.
Now that the team has had a chance to see him in OTAs and training camp (in other words, an actual football environment), the expectations for Poe seem to have been greatly rolled back. When talking to reporters on Wednesday, Crennel had no shortage of criticisms for his young defensive lineman.
“He needs to work on technique, he needs to work on understanding the system, he needs to get the calls correct all the time. He’s got a ways to go,” the head coach said.
It’s not unexpected for a rookie to have a steep learning curve, especially on the defensive line, but it would have been much easier for the team to temper expectations from the start. I get wanting to sell the pick to fans, but anyone taking a hard line on Poe wasn’t going to be swayed by the team building him up in April.
The hope is Poe can be the next Vince Wilfork or BJ Raji, two dominant men in the middle that took their time getting adjusted to the speed and power of the NFL. The big man for the New England Patriots only started six games as a rookie, while the Green Bay Packers nose tackle had just one start out of the gate. Both ended up starting all 16 games in their sophomore campaigns.
If Poe can turn into anything close to either of those two players, the Chiefs and their fans will be happy no matter what happens in 2012. But in the short term there will be plenty of reminiscing about former Chiefs No. 6 overall pick Ryan Sims with a slow start from Poe.