2018 NFL Draft

Finding the Fits: At Long last, Chiefs may have a developmental DE

Finding the Fits: At Long last, Chiefs may have a developmental DE

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Over the next several weeks, NFLDraftScout.com will be reviewing some of the more intriguing picks made during the 2012 NFL Draft through a series called "Finding the Fits." The goal of the series is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and therefore more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.

While with the New England Patriots, general manager Scott Pioli developed a reputation as a talent evaluator who appreciated "safe" prospects on draft day. Since joining Kansas City, Pioli has become a bit of a gambler, investing a first-round choice in talented but troubled wideout Jonathan Baldwin a year ago and rolling the dice again in 2012 with Memphis defensive lineman Dontari Poe at No. 11 overall.

Theoretically, Poe is an ideal fit for the Chiefs. The 6-4, 346-pounder certainly has the bulk the team has been lacking on the nose and no one in the 2012 draft showed greater weight-room strength at the Combine than Poe, who led all participants this year with 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Even more impressive than Poe's strength is his remarkable speed for his size. Poe was clocked at 4.98 seconds in the 40-yard dash on some watches at the Combine.

Review Poe on tape, however, and the incredible combination of athleticism and strength is rarely on display. Poe routinely comes off the ball high, losing the leverage battle to smaller, weaker opponents and ultimately being driven away from the action. And the burst he showed in the 40-yard dash? It didn't translate to rushing the quarterback in college. Despite playing against Conference USA talent throughout his career, Poe registered just five sacks in 35 career games, including 30 starts.

Of course, the Chiefs didn't draft Poe to rush the quarterback. That isn't a high priority for a nose guard in the 3-4 alignment. Playing with leverage so that he can swallow up blockers and free the linebackers behind him to make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage will be Poe's main assignment. Defensive-minded head coach Romeo Crennel is highly regarded as a teacher. He has a talented pupil in Poe but make no mistake, there will be a learning curve with this rookie.

There will also be a significant adjustment needed for today's subject of Finding the Fits, the Chiefs' first of two seventh-round picks, San Diego State defensive lineman Jerome Long.

Unlike the No. 11 overall pick of the draft, Long was drafted because of his production rather than his potential. The 6-5, 290-pounder finished second among all defensive linemen in the Mountain West Conference with an average of 5.6 tackles per game. He finished the year with 73 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks.

Despite his production and size, Long was not invited to the 2012 Scouting Combine. He did perform well at the Casino Del Sol All-Star game, however, where he caught the eyes of scouts.

Long's build, effort and versatility after playing inside and out for the Aztecs make him an intriguing developmental prospect as a five-technique defensive end for the 3-4 alignment. He needs to develop greater strength, especially in his lower body to hold up at the point of attack and only established himself as a standout during his last year of college play.

Considering the gambling nature that Pioli has suddenly developed, perhaps that makes Long all the more of a "fit" in the general manager's strategy.

The rest of the Chiefs' picks:

1st Round - No. 11 overall - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
2nd Round - No. 44 overall - Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
3rd Round - No. 74 overall - Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma
4th Round - No. 107 overall - Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
5th Round - No. 146 overall - DeQuan Menzie, DB, Alabama
6th Round - No. 182 overall - Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
7th Round - No. 218 overall - Jerome Long, DL, San Diego State
7th Round - No. 238 overall - Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan

Read more about all of the Chiefs' picks here.
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