Continuing with the nose tackle theme we started yesterday, the first prospect that we will cover today is a popular player for fans to project to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe. For many, Poe seems to be a polarizing prospect, which wowed scouts at the combine with an impressive display of athleticism. Now, scouts must determine if he can develop into a dominant interior defensive lineman in the NFL.
Early in the process, the 6-4, 346-pound Poe was considered a no-brainer top ten pick. However, scouts seem to be cooling on him. Yes, he is a top-ten athletic talent, but his on-field production, as a football player, does not match his athleticism. Even with that stigma, Poe is a prospect who may not be around for the Steelers at selection 24, thus falling out of their grasp as a long-term replacement for veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton.
At the combine, Poe set the place on fire with an incredible workout, recording 44 reps at 225 and an amazing 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. Explosive off the ball, he has the quickness to penetrate and deliver a boom when he arrives. Clearly, he is one of the most athletically gifted defensive tackles in this year’s draft, but the question persists on whether that ability will translate into on-field production.
One of the reasons that he seems to struggle in games, even with all that talent, is a lack of prototypical technique. As a pass-rusher, he is quick off the ball, but lacks a full array of pass rush moves to go with that initial burst. These same flaws show up as a run defender, where the lack of arm length and technique counteracts his strength, limiting his capacity to clog lanes and dominate inside.
In the end, Poe sits as an imposing defensive lineman with some scheme-flexibility and a ton of upside. If the Steelers are interested, there is a good possibility they will have to move up to get him in round one. With a high ceiling and potential to develop into a dominating lineman, he is a sure bet to come off the board in the middle of round one (possibly NLT the New York Jets at pick 15).
In all, the Steelers have brought in five defensive linemen and Steelers101 will continue to profile all of the pre-draft visitors pre-draft visitors. In completing this profile, every defensive lineman to visit will have been profiled. Below is a list of the rest of defensive linemen that visited with the organization with the their completed profiles annotated and hyperlinked, feel free to check them out and weigh in with your thoughts.
BYU nose tackle Hebron Fangupo(Steelers101 profile 4/14)
Cincinnati nose tackle John Hughes (Steelers101 profile 4/18)
Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (Steelers101 profile 4/19)
Cincinnati defensive end Derek Wolfe (Steelers101 profile 4/19)
Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe
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