Once again the riverboat gambler is grinning at the card table, itching to go all-in on a high risk maneuver if he can just get the chance. There is no doubt Dallas Cowboys Owner/GM Jerry Jones watched the 2012 NFL Combine workouts like a wide-eyed boy at Christmas, hoping to discover the next imposing physical specimen to lay claim as his new prize possession. As usual he desperately seeks his next set of lotto ticket numbers to play. Enter Dontari Poe and his eye-popping combine results, a massive 6’4, 346 pounds mountain of a man who can bench press Buicks and run like he has helium in his bulging belly.
It might have sounded a little something like this in Indianapolis…”Come on Stevie, quit watching DeCastro again, even the waterboy over there knows he’s a lock. Mark down that Dontario Poe fella’s numbers and let’s get to the nearest 7-11 pronto. What, his name is Dontari not Dontario? Well nobody ever heard of him before today so what’s the big deal? Stop goofin’ off watchin’ these other guys and tell Jr. to pull the dang car around. I wanna be the first GM to fill out my new play card with Poe’s numbers”.
In all seriousness, we can safely assume the NFL Combine created JJ’s man-crush on Poe as it certainly wasn’t film study or past performance. Dontari Poe was a pretty good college player but did not dominate the middle like he does the squat rack or a field cluttered only by wind in opposition. Let’s not forget, this is the number one pick in a very solid defensive draft we are talking about. But son he sure can run fast for a big boy and throws around that weighted bar like a toothpick with olives on the ends.
JJ Only Has Eyes For Poe
So why is Jerry Jones not falling all over ANY of the Big Three from Bama? Sure he may like one of those proven players quite a bit and may even have to draft one if Dontari is gone at 14. But according to the vast number of reports he’s chomping at the bit to draft Poe. Poe? Really? Say it ain’t so, Double J! At least hit the film room and study the intricate details of his football package, and what made him merely a 2nd team All-Conference USA award winner. Time and again history shows that NFL games aren’t won at the combine. And honestly, most smaller school guys who make it in the NFL at least were dominant in their smaller conferences. The risk is typically in can they translate that same dominance onto a much larger stage.
The University of Memphis is not a tiny program relatively unknown on the national landscape, but it’s certainly not a major college program with a football pedigree the likes of The University of Tennessee either. The undergrad enrollment is around 15,000 students at Memphis. To be excluded from the first team all-conference lineup at a program of smaller size speaks volume about on-field performance.
Don’t take my word for it, just browse the wire now saturated with player scouting reports. For every salivating scout in love with Poe’s monumental workouts, there is another guy describing his lack of natural instincts on the football field. There is a glaring absence of controlling performances that don’t translate coming from a man of his tremendous stature and physical force in non-competition drills.
2-for-1 Doesn’t Add Up
As for Poe and the 2-for-1 concept so often brought up when speaking of his effects on moving Jay Ratliff outside, it’s great in theory but has flaws as well. Sure a massive, dominant nose tackle would allow Ratliff to move outside and reek havoc from the end where he is arguably a more natural fit. That’s if Poe was able to play at this high of a level as a rookie, which is debatable. But one could also argue that drafting an imposing defensive end and keeping Ratliff inside would still combine to form a dominant nose/end grouping. Finding that dominant defensive end on draft day is just as difficult as finding a nose tackle of the same high caliber. Both would be 2-for-1 selections if they succeeded when viewed through Ratliff tinted glasses.
Ratliff may be better suited at end and I’d personally enjoy seeing him finally have the ability to showcase it. But logically when analyzing Poe in the first round, the team taking that risk needs to look solely at his ability to succeed at his own position and drop all the indirect outcomes he MAY be able to create. If he plays the way he did at Memphis, he could very well be a much inferior nose than Ratliff and more suited as a relief player like Josh Brent. Which would then demand Ratliff still spend much time on the inside. At this stage in his performance past, Poe is certainly no forgone conclusion to control the middle of the field at the level Ratliff does, and it’s a significant reach.
Trophy Fish In The Sea
At the very least if Jerry absolutely needs a player to salivate over, he should be more serious about the benefits offered by the almost sure-fire future Pro Bowl Guard in David DeCastro. The only risk with DeCastro is he doesn’t fit into Jerry Jones risk/reward model. Jerry rarely falls in love unless there is a high risk/high reward overtone. Which is the sign of a true gambler, and often the sign of a man on the wrong end of the table when the cards fall.
The guy who pursues more joy and satisfaction from hitting big on a longshot or uncertain commodity than acheiving the same success with a player who was known to be solid by the masses from the get-go. The end result is the same, and that’s where the real satisfaction should come into play, not more so from the risk overcome in getting there.
Any intense man-love for a proven player the likes of David DeCastro or Mark Barron is just too easy for Jones to claim as his latest discovery. They seem to be too certain of being productive players for a man often looking to prove his own football mettle along with the player he attaches his name to. Jerry broke his own risky mold last year by selecting a consensus solid player in Tyron Smith and that paid off tremendously.
Now let’s take a look at the latest solid player Jerry should be head-over-heels for in the 2012 NFL Draft. The guy who fills an immediate starting need on the Cowboys defense. A proven warrior who locks down elite status everywhere he’s stepped on the field…Alabama Crimson Tide Strong Safety, Mark Barron.