When the Chiefs made a first round investment in former Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, the effect was polarizing for NFL analysts and the team's fan base. After all, there was both a lot to like and an equal amount to dismiss about Poe. However, the verdict is so far, so good from Romeo Crennel as the Chiefs get into the second half of their regular season schedule.
Poe entered the draft as a player with fantastic measurables on paper but very little in the way of game tape against top competition. Memphis is not exactly an elite college football program, and the knock on Poe was that he was a project. Given the No. 11 draft slot, it was hard to see why Kansas City would pass up certain impact players to take such an early flier.
Poe certainly turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February. Scott Pioli insisted that he was looking at Poe long before the Combine, but Poe earned national attention with his performance of incredible 4.8 40-yard time after checking in at 346 lbs. It was enough to earn him the title of winner at the "underwear Olympics." Even then, Poe still had his doubters.
Crennel said Poe has made nice strides all season and that he's just now rounding into form after using the bulk of the season to learn the playbook and proper technique.
"I think he's making good progress," said Crennel. "Last week I think he made a pass rush move and got to the quarterback and was able to pressure him. He didn't get the sack but he was right on him. In a one-on-one situation I think that was a nice move by him and showed good improvement.
"We've said all along that he might be able to help us more on sub [situations] than other noses we've had in the past. And I think that's still the case."
Crennel noted that he doesn't believe that Poe is a rare case who is ahead of the curve, but he also believes he's coming along as the team envisioned when they wrote his name on the draft card.
"I think he's kind of on schedule," said Crennel. "If you remember in talking about our defense and how long it takes guys to get acclimated, in the past, guys who have been drafted in the first round and started to play, takes them about three-quarters of a season to feel comfortable about how we want them to play, what their responsibilities are and those kind of things. I think he's adapted very well."
Poe has 18 tackles in 10 games for the Chiefs this season.