Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been exploring lesser known late round draft prospects who could possibly find themselves in a Carolina Panthers uniform next season, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing some of those prospects with you in the Fanpost section of the CSR website. In the next couple of months, I will continue to be on the lookout for any guys that fit this particular description all the way up until the draft in late April. After all, everybody loves an underdog who hasn’t been able to get the exposure of some of the more prominent prospects. With that being said, I’m going in the opposite direction with this post by setting my sights on an early round prospect who could already be on the Panther’s radar.
In two of my more recent Fanposts, I analyzed a couple of sleeper defensive tackles (Akiem Hicks and Hebron Fangupo) who could be an option for us in later rounds. Well, the next prospect on my docket just so happens to be another one of those behemoths who could potentially play the nose tackle role with a strength and dominance that we haven’t seen in quite some time. Unlike the two aforementioned defensive tackles above, this player is mostly viewed as a late first round talent at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fall into the second round. Join me after the jump for more on this fascinating prospect.
If you haven’t guessed it already, his name is Dontari Poe, and one of the first things that jumped out at me while researching him is his brute strength. Just look at these amazing numbers. He bench presses over 500 pounds, squats over 700 pounds, and power cleans over 400 pounds. You just don’t see those type of numbers very often. In fact, his strength coach believes that Poe has only just begun to scratch the surface of how good he could potentially be at the next level, and many scouts seem to agree. Before we evaluate him any further, let’s visit him in the weight room for a moment
Poe is not only blessed with transcendent power and strength, he also is a pretty good defensive tackle, at least at the college level anyway. Although he didn’t play in an elite conference, he still put up some fairly impressive numbers for a man his size in his career with the Memphis Tigers. Starting with his Sophomore campaign, Poe had 2 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 3 forced fumbles. As a Junior, he posted 2 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hurries, 1 pass broken up, and 0 forced fumbles. Poe finished his Senior season with 1 sack, 8 tackles for loss, 5 quarterback hurries, 3 passes broken up, and 1forced fumble. One look at his stats, and it is quite clear that he isn’t an elite pass rusher. However, he is a decent run stuffer who can overpower any guard that is left to defend him one on one. It’s also important to note that he faced double teams on a consistent basis throughout his college career. With that being said, let’s continue to dig a little deeper.
What makes Poe such an intriguing prospect for the Panthers is how his size could be utilized in our hybrid defensive schemes. Although his ability at nose tackle is lacking at the moment, he has plenty of the size and strength that is necessary to thrive at that position. Where Poe would likely make the most impact early on and beyond is as a two-gap 4-3 defensive tackle, but there’s no denying the fact that his potential to switch positions from one play to the next will put Poe on the Panther’s radar come April. Additionally, he displays explosiveness when coming out of his stance, is able to diagnose plays quickly, is an excellent tackler, has exceptional ability to change direction at his size, and possesses an above average motor. While all of these superlatives are great, you may be surprised to know that I, personally, don't feel like he's our best defensive tackle option.
Frankly, after watching the 22 minute long video of Poe's exploits in his game against Arkansas State on youtube.com(can't post it because the video owner didn't enable it to be embedded), I’m not sure why he’s viewed as a late first/early second round prospect. Don’t get me wrong. It is certainly true that Poe has many of the traits you look for in a future NFL caliber defensive tackle, I just didn’t see much proof of it in this film. I totally realize that this was only a small sample of his career at