Try, try again: Chiefs try another D-line prospect

The Sports Xchange
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The Chiefs did not make the AFC field for the playoffs last season, but that did not have general manager Scott Pioli trolling the draft waters for immediate help and contributors to his starting lineups. Instead, Pioli drafted like he's had a solid contender for several seasons, selecting eight draft picks that almost to a man, are down the line players for the Chiefs.

"One of the things we talk about is trying to get this team bigger, stronger, faster, tougher and we feel in the last two days we have certainly gotten bigger, stronger, faster, tougher," Pioli said. "We've created quality depth and definitely created competition throughout the football team."

BEST PICK

Tackle Jeff Allen: A four-year starter at Illinois at left and right tackle, Allen may be switched to guard with the Chiefs and compete with veteran Ryan Lilja for the starting job at left guard.

COULD SURPRISE

Wide receiver Devon Wylie: Maybe the first of the Chiefs draft class that sees regular playing time, thanks to his background in the slot on offense and participating in special teams as a punt returner.

A closer look at the Chiefs picks:

Round 1/11 - Dontari Poe, NT, 6-3, 346, Memphis

A developmental pick, Poe has the attributes that head coach/defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel seeks for a nose tackle. But Poe has very limited experience playing the position.

Round 2/44 - Jeff Allen, OT, 6-4, 306, Illinois

In the Chiefs prototypes for each position, Allen falls on the border between guard and tackle. He played 47 games at tackle for the Illini, but the Chiefs are considering moving him to guard to compete with veteran left guard Ryan Lilja.

Round 3/74 - Donald Stephenson, OT, 6-6, 307, Oklahoma

A Kansas City native and long-time Chiefs fan, he's a developmental project who likely will land at right tackle to start his career.

Round 4/107 - Devon Wylie, WR, 5-9, 186, Fresno State

Wylie brings the element of speed to the roster that they desperately need, especially on special teams where he shined at Fresno returning punts. He could easily become the Wes Welker of the K.C. offense.

Round 5/146 - DeQuan Menzie, CB, 6-0, 198, Alabama

As part of the national championship Crimson Tide defense, Menzie played the opposite cornerback spot from Dre Kirkpatrick. The junior-college transfer has the type of skills where he could play both safety positions and head's up on the slot receiver.

Round 6/182 - Cyrus Gray, RB, 5-10, 198, Texas A&M

Gray put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Aggies and brings a jack of all trades history and mentality to the Chiefs backfield. His ability to run, catch, back, return and cover in the kicking game will increase his roster chances.

Round 7/218 - Jerome Long, DT, 6-4, 290, San Diego State

Long broke through in the Aztecs' 8-5 season in 2011, picking up 69 total tackles and five sacks in head coach Rocky Long's defense.

Round 7/238 - Junior Hemingway, WR, 6-1, 222, Michigan

Hemingway played through three coaching staffs, three different offenses and somehow survived. Two of his most important catches were a pair of touchdowns in January's Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech that earned him game MVP honors.

--Since the Chiefs operation was overhauled after the 2008 season, they've played the 3-4 defense.

But for the next three seasons, that defense lacked one of the prime ingredients for any successful 34 scheme -- a big, space-eating nose tackle.

They finally filled that giant hole on Thursday with the selection of nose tackle Dontari Poe, a 6-3, 346-pound athletic specimen from the University of Memphis as the fourth first-rounder in the Scott Pioli-Chiefs' personnel marriage.

Poe becomes the third first-round choice used on a defensive lineman by the Chiefs in the last five seasons, joining Glenn Dorsey (2008) and Tyson Jackson (2009). Those two guys came out of Louisiana State and were trained in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

For Poe, his college career was in Conference USA, where the best he could do in three seasons is earn second-team all-conference honors as a senior.

Poe gained universal attention around the league after his performance in the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. In physical testing there, he was among the most athletic performers no matter position. At 346 pounds, he was timed in 4.98 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and he bench pressed 225 pounds 44 consecutive times. His vertical jump was 29 1/2 inches, despite his weight and he ran the 20-yard shuttle in under five seconds.

But Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said it wasn't Poe's Combine performance that drew the Chiefs to him.

"Our scouts' reports talked about how good he was as a player and his ability," Crennel said. "Those reports came before the Combine. What he did at the Combine perked us up even more."

A native of Memphis, Poe had limited recruiting interest coming out of Wooddale High School. Recruiting services rated him a two-star prospect. He took a redshirt season in 2008 and then played in 35 games over the next three seasons, starting 30 of those along the defensive line. His production was limited, as he had 101 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also forced four fumbles for a Memphis team that went 5-31 in his three seasons.

Crennel said the fact Poe was moved all around the defensive line did not allow him to establish himself at a single position.

"He played the 9 (technique), 7, 5, 3, 2, 1 and he played over the center at nose tackle," coach Romeo Crennel said. "He did that every game, not just every once in awhile. We are going to put him at one position, nose tackle, where we'll let him play and learn the spot."

That was very good news for the 21-year old Poe, who was in New York at Radio City Music Hall for the Draft when he got the phone call from the Chiefs that he was their man.

"That sounds good to me," Poe said. "It will be good to play just one spot, nose guard, and learn the ins and outs of the position. I'm eager to get it started. It wasn't a problem playing (multiple positions), but it's always better when you play one thing."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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