With the 9th Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers Select:
Dontari Poe, DT/NT, Memphis
First of all, let me start by saying this isn't the DT I'd take, I think he has a good chance of being a bust, but I think the Panthers are going to take him here. DT is their biggest need and he is being hyped as the top guy, and they need more a NT type, which Poe is. Not to mention he's an incredible athlete for his size. Overall a big risk/reward pick. Poe could either turn into a monster or a bust, it will depend on his attitude and work ethic at the next level.
Scouting Report (via walterfootball):
Extremely rare athlete
Elite straight-line speed
Constantly fills his gap
Pursues quickly downfield
Requires multiple blockers
Potential as a zero-technique
Ready to play immediately in the NFL
Incredibly hard to move at line of scrimmage
Durable; missed one game in three seasons
Reputation for taking plays off
Lack of production
Summary: Poe is considered to be the top defensive tackle in the 2012 NFL Draft class. He is a quick and powerful force at the line of scrimmage who has the ability to be very disruptive. Poe is a rare athlete with his speed and strength at his massive size. After three seasons at Memphis, he decided to skip his senior season to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
Poe had a tremendous performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. Prior to the Combine, his stock was in the latter half of the first round, but after dominating in Indianapolis, he boosted his stock into the top half of the first round. Poe had an amazing 40-yard dash time of 4.87 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.68. Those were astounding numbers for such a heavy defensive tackle. Poe also led all prospects with 44 reps on the bench press. He did well in the field drills and showed off rare agility.
The biggest negative about Poe's draft stock is his lack of production at the college level. With his special skill set, he should have produced more and put together a bigger stat line, especially at his lower level of competition. Poe totaled 33 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble in 2011. As a sophomore the year before, he had 41 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks.
One glaring negative is that Poe earned a reputation of taking plays off. He is sure to get grilled about that in team interviews and will need to have some good answers.
Despite those concerns, very rarely does an athlete like Poe enter the NFL. Defenses can do a lot with a player like him since he commands double teams on virtually every snap. There is a lack of zero-technique 3-4 nose tackle prospects and Poe can fit that role along with playing nose tackle in a 4-3 defense.
Player Comparison: Haloti Ngata. It is tough to find a player comparable to Poe in the NFL. The closest thing to a size and athletic-ability perspective may be Ngata (6-4, 330), but I'm hesitant to say that Poe will turn into as a good a player as Ngata is for Baltimore. The Raven Pro Bowler is a disruptive force at the line of scrimmage who can beat double teams with power and speed. He was the 12th-overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Poe should go in the same general area this April. While Poe may not be as dominant as Ngata, his game could be similar to Ngata's with less of an impact.