Atlanta Falcons: Dontari Poe, an in depth look

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Nose tackle Dontari Poe
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Nose tackle Dontari Poe /

What should the Atlanta Falcons expect from newly acquired free agent defensive tackle Dontari Poe during the 2017 NFL season?

This offseason, the Atlanta Falcons signed nose tackle Dontari Poe from the Kanas City Chiefs. Looking at the off-season, many Falcons fans believed it wouldn’t happen — that he’d ask himself out of Atlanta’s price range. Atlanta had hit big on Free Agency last offseason signing arguably the best center in football, Alex Mack, and a contributor at wide receiver, Mohammed Sanu. This offseason, free agency for the Falcons seemed to be kind of uneventful. Until news struck that Poe was indeed on Atlanta’s radar. Fans everywhere got wildly excited, and for good reason. Below, I’ll talk about why.

His Background:

Poe has been a mammoth sized dude as far back as anyone can find. In college, he was compared to Haloti Ngata, but whats even more insane, is the combine that Poe put up. A sub 5.0 time in the 40-yard dash and a monstrous 44 bench reps. He was drafted by the Chiefs and ultimately became one of the most freakish players at the defensive tackle position ever since.

His 2013 and 2014 seasons were probably his best ones, notching 40-plus tackles and four-plus sacks each season, from a NT thats really good. He was a constant force in the middle, his big body being nearly impossible to move. Houston and Hali wrecked havoc along the edges as well, and it created a great nucleus and Poe was a factor in that. He had nearly 40 tackles in 2015 with a sack.

Is he still a force?

In 2016 his production took a hit notching under 30 tackles. Now, who knows exactly how disruptive he was?

Did he lose that aspect, probably not. The production did dip though, as he played an insane amount of snaps. Poe played 876 total snaps last season, which was the seventh most of any interior lineman. To put that into prospective, Atlanta’s highest played player along the interior last season, was Grady Jarrett, who played 762 total snaps.

Jarrett, who probably weighs 40-plus pounds less than Poe, was playing less snaps. Poe played an excruciating amount of time during last season, and a result of that was back problems that’ve been documented.

To fix it though, we can all expect Poe to play more in a base defense that’ll have many rotational pieces, to keep him fresh. As well as the weight loss the Falcons have him on. So is he a force? That remains to be seen, however, on a one year prove it deal, we can expect him to be better than last season.

How will he help?

Even if he isn’t getting six sacks like he did in 2014, his presence should definitely be felt at all times that he’s on the field. A 330-plus pound guy can’t be blocked one-on-one, which will free up someone to one on one opportunities.

Grady Jarrett showed countless times that he can rarely be stopped with one blocker, so what can an interior offensive line do, to prepare?

Not to mention reigning sack leader outside linebacker Vic Beasley coming off the edge, and yeah he may be a rookie, but Takkarist McKinley doesn’t strike me as a guy that opposing teams want to block with one guy either. But that isn’t all that Poe can help impact.

Think of this — Deion Jones, Duke Riley, they’re a little undersized, but they’re fast. We want those guys clean off the ball, we don’t want opposing linemen to get their hands on them. Poe helps with that immensely because of his big body, he’ll help keep the linebackers clean, which could be scary with these guys flying around, as well as DeVondre Campbell.

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So that’s what we should expect. If not a sack-happy defensive tackle, we can all expect him to help the linebackers produce, and give us much needed physicality along the defensive line to add to what we already had.