Dontari Poe Could Be The Wrecking Ball The Lions Need On Their Defensive Line.
NFL games are won up front, both offensively and defensively, and any team looking to have sustained success can always use some more help up front. The Lions currently have Akeem Spence and A’Shawn Robinson under contract through the 2019 season and can certainly add another piece through free agency/NFL Draft.
As rumors continue to increase with the New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia coming to Detroit to be the next head coach; he could implement a 3-4 defensive scheme and having the right personnel can help him immediately. Taking a look at the free agent defensive tackles out there and one name clearly sticks out, Dontari Poe.
I have watched four of Poe’s games from the 2017 season and have prepared an in-depth report.
Name: Dontari Poe
Position: 0-3 Tech DT
DOB: 08-18-1990 (27 years old)
Drafted: 2012 – 1st round – Kansas City Chiefs
Former Team: Atlanta Falcons
Games Played: 94
Games Started: 92
2017- No Injuries
2016- No Injuries
2015- Back (Weeks 1-2), Ankle (Weeks 6 – OUT, 7-8)
2014 – No Injuries
2013- Ankle (Week 7)
2012- Knee (Week 11)
2017 – 2.5 sacks, 39 tackles, and 2 PDs.
2014 – Pro Bowler – T-2nd on team with 6 sacks (Career High), had 46 tackles and 1 PD.
2013 – Pro Bowler – T-3rd on team with 4.5 sacks, had 52 tackles (Career High) and 4 PDs.
Career – 15.5 sacks, 241 tackles, 2 FF, 1 FR, and 14 PDs.
Height: 6’ 3’’
Weight: 346 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.98
10-yard split: 1.69
Arm Length: 32’’
Hand Size: 9 5/8’’
3 Cone: 7.90
Short Shuttle: 4.56
Broad Jump: 105’’
Bench Press: 44 reps
2017- vs BUF 10/01, @ NYJ 10/29, vs DAL 11/12, vs MIN 12/03
Best: Athletic Ability, Competitive Toughness, Mental Processing, vs Run, UOH, Pursuit, and vs Pass
Worst: Shed Block and Gap Integrity vs OZ, Toss, Sweep
Athletic Ability: 4/7
Mental Processing: 4/7
Competitive Toughness: 4/7
Play Speed: 4/7
Play Strength: 4/7
Upfield Burst: 4/7
Pass Rush: 5/7
Vs Run: 4/7
Poe is a sixth year player who started all 16 games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. In Atlanta, head coach Dan Quinn implemented the 4-3 scheme, specifically the 4-3 under, which allowed him to play anywhere from a 0-tech to a 3-tech. He has average size as his height, weight, arm length, and hand size are all around average standards for defensive tackles. Poe displays solid athleticism due to good balance and solid agility, explosiveness, and quickness.
He displays solid upfield burst as he is able to key the ball and get off the line of scrimmage quickly in his first three steps. Poe is a solid run defender as he is able to reset the line of scrimmage with solid pad level, he quickly diagnoses both gap and zone schemes, and maintains his gap integrity as he keeps his shoulders square vs draw, iso, split zone, inside zone, trap, counter, and down blocks.
He uses his hands well as he effectively leverages them to hold his gap with good hand placement and very good strength. Double teams happen quite often for Poe, but he is physically tough to maintain his ground, allow other teammates to make plays, and he has shown the ability to split the double and make a play himself. Poe does well in tackling as he brings down the ball carriers whenever he gets his hands on them.
Poe is a good pass rusher as displays solid mental processing when keying and diagnosing the protection post-snap, he understands the importance of having a pass rush plan, he utilizes that plan by displaying good finesse and power moves, and is able to generate enough push to get the quarterback off his spot. Not a surprise for Poe, but he often commands the attention of two offensive linemen when rushing the quarterback.
His good hand placement, timing, and very good strength allow him to be a strong force when he rushes the passer. Poe has good pursuit ability as he displays both the motor and effort when the play goes away and the agility to move through traffic even though he most likely will not make the play due his speed vs a running back’s speed. Poe wins his 1 v 1 battles with offensive lineman (vs run and pass), play at a high level consistently, is physically tough at the point of attack, mentally tough to eliminate any penalties, and displays the ability to be both a 1-gap and 2-gap player due to his effectiveness and ability to play multiple techniques.
Poe has a below average ability to maintain gap integrity vs outside zone, toss, and sweep as he gets out leveraged moving laterally. His ability to shed blocks is also below average as he will be in perfect positions and not consistently shed the block to make a play. He has the technique, power, and ability to shed blocks and make plays, but the consistency is just not there. He shows flashes of this ability and makes plays when he does so, but then there are moments when the running back will run right past him in the hole as he does not shed his block effectively. This could be attributed to either a lack of mental processing, fatigue or the offensive lineman has better leverage than Poe.
At the end of the day, Poe is a very good starter you can win with vs both zone and gap schemes due to his athletic ability, competitive toughness, mental processing, ability to play vs run and pass, and pursuit ability. He has troubles defending outside runs (outsize zone, toss, sweep, etc.) and is not consistent enough with his block shedding. He will still eat up space in the interior of the defensive line, create lanes for linebackers to run, and command constant double teams (vs run and pass) which will allow others to have a chance to succeed.
Atlanta signed Poe to a 1-year $7.5 million deal along with a $500k bonus ($8.5 million cap hit) which is significantly higher than the Lions’ defensive tackles Spence ($3.5 million cap hit in 2018) and Robinson ($1.4 million cap hit in 2018). The silver lining is that he had a down year statistically (only 2.5 sacks, 39 tackles, and 2 PDs), so his market value may have diminished somewhat giving the Lions an opportunity to get a quality defensive tackle for good value. If the Lions want to improve defensively and allow other star players (Ansah, Davis, etc) to succeed; then adding a run stuffing, double team-commanding, hog molly would definitely be a step in the right direction.