The Chiefs knew they were drafting raw talent when they chose Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe 11th overall.
But after realizing he’d best be used as a situational player, and that he was behind two others on the depth chart, they’re now forced to throw more his way than they had planned. With starting nose tackle Anthony Toribio out with an ankle injury this week, Poe has taken reps with the first team and will have to do more than anticipated.
“Back when we drafted him, I mentioned that he might have more of an impact as a third-down player than a first- and second-down player because the techniques that we use on first and second are so different than what he has been used to,’’ Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said, via Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star. “On third down, they’re more like what he was doing in college. He showed some flashes that he could do some things, particularly in the one-on-one situation, so that’s why we put him there in that pass-rush area.’’
But asking him to do more might slow the process more than it speeds it up. As the 49ers showed last year with pass-rusher Aldon Smith, giving a rookie a narrow expectation isn’t the worst idea.
“He’s making progress, but he’s still that rookie that reverts back to what he knows at times, and he forgets how to remember how we want to do it,’’ Crennel said. “I know there was one play in the game, he was in good position on the block, and then he ended up jumping off the block. He thought that he could make the play, and that opened up a hole. You have to point those out to him and get him to correct it. He’s a conscientious student, so I think he will get it corrected.”
As long as the Chiefs are healthy, they have the opportunity to bring him along slowly. But if they’re not, it could force Poe into a place that’s uncomfortable for both him and the team.