Dontari Poe is drawing comparisons to Mike Mamula. Like Mamula, he rocketed up draft boards following an incredible combine workout, including many who considered him to be a potential top 10 pick in the draft (again, like Mamula, who was taken 7th overall). But now his stock seems to be falling back down as analysts realize that his production on the field does not match what his measureables show he should be able to do. Now it looks like Fletcher Cox is the consensus top 10 DT, Michael Brockers is also ahead of Poe on most draft boards, and all of those comparisons to Haloti Ngata have been thrown right out the window.
Well, let's just look at how poor Poe's on-field production is compared to those other bohemoths:
2009 27 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks
2010 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks
2011 33 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, and 1.0 sack
2009 29 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.0 sack
2010 29 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks
2011 49 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks
2010 25 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, and no sacks
2011 54 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks
2004 46 tackles and 4.0 sacks
2005 61 tackles and 3.0 sacks
I was not able to find Ngata's tackles for loss stat for each individual season, but his Wikipedia entry credits him for 17.5 tackles for loss in 04-05 combined (and 6.5 sacks in those 2 seasons instead of 7.0).
What I'm getting at...is he really THAT far off of these other guys in terms of on-field performance? His on-field numbers aren't eye-popping like his combine numbers are (where he was simultaneously the biggest DT, the fastest DT, and the strongest DT), but he at least seems to be in the general neighborhood of some of these other top-rated DT's.
One of the complaints about Poe was that his motor tended to run hot and cold. Well, frankly, his team sucked, so he was on the field ALL THE TIME. The offense couldn't move the ball with regularity, so that lead to a lot of three-and-outs, meaning the defense is forced to go right back out there without any reasonable degree of rest. And the defense wasn't great at stopping anyone either, so he was often out on the field for long, drawn out drives. And since he was the centerpiece of their defense, the one and only guy that opposing offenses had to game plan to stop, he was constantly facing double teams or more. Not to mention that all of this was happening in the brutal Memphis heat (remember how poor our DL looked when we had to play early season games against the Titans in their building a few years ago).
Sure, he may never be a dynamic pass rusher, but that never stopped Casey Hampton from being an excellent nose tackle for us. He will never get big sack numbers, but he will be able to provide a decent push to collapse the pocket in the quarterback's face. He will be stout at the point of attack and able to occupy blockers. He also has the flexibility of being able to play multiple positions (which you know our coaches love). He's got tremendous upside, and is a hard worker with a great attitude and a blue collar work ethic. If he was just big, fat, and lazy, I wouldn't want him, but that seems to be the exact opposite of what he offers.
Remember, before the incredible combine, he was already being talked about as a late-first, early-second round type of guy. If he somehow slips to #24 because teams are scared off by the Mamula comparisons, I'd happily take him. He won't be ready to start from day one (his game will need a little seasoning), but Snack and McLendon (with a little Ziggy sprinkled in if necessary) should be able to handle the majority of the snaps this year while the rook adjusts to the pro game, and he could be an absolute force for us once Hampton hangs 'em up.