In the history of Memphis Tigers football there have been only two first round picks. The Carolina Panthers selected running back DeAngelo Williams 27th overall in 2006. The Kansas City Chiefs a decade earlier used the 28th overall pick on safety Jerome Woods.
Junior defensive tackle Dontari Poe is hoping to join these former Tigers as soon as possible, announcing via Twitter Friday that he is foregoing his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL draft.
Wrote Poe, under the handle @bigpoe74, "Big decision know I chose right.... NFL here I come."
The news, initially reported by John Taylor of CollegeFootballTalk.com, does not come as a surprise. Listed at 6-5, 350 pounds, Poe had emerged as one of the elite defensive line prospects in the entire country this season and was prominently featured in both my own first round projection, as well as that of NFLDraftScout.com's new analyst, Dane Brugler. Each of us, in fact, are projecting the Houston Texans to make Poe the 26th overall pick.
Despite being constantly double-teamed whether he played inside or out, Poe registered 33 tackles, including eight tackles for loss this season for the Tigers. He was voted the team's defensive MVP following the season and was known in scouting circles to be strongly considering taking advantage of the relative lack of top senior defensive tackles available this year.
With his incredible size, Poe is an obvious candidate for 3-4 teams looking for nose guards, thus Dane and I's projection with the Houston Texans. Poe, however, is remarkably light on his feet for a man of his huge size and therefore will also be strongly scouted by teams using the more traditional four man front, as well.
Poe is currently listed No. 19 on my Big Board rankings. The Second Team All-Conference USA pick is currently ranked fourth among defensive tackles graded by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 32 player, overall.