Dallas Cowboys Reportedly Targeting Dontari Poe in 2012 NFL Draft

By Jeric Griffin

The Dallas Cowboys have been reported to be interested in several different college players as the 2012 NFL Draft draws near. However, Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline is more than reporting the Cowboys are interested in Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe; he says Dallas is targeting Poe at No. 14 overall and he expects Poe to be the Cowboys’ first pick in April’s draft.

Speaking about the Cowboys, Pauline said Poe is “the apple of their eyes.” Pauline thinks Poe is at the top of the Cowboys’ draft board and that Dallas will select him if he’s on the board at No. 14 overall. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has stated in recent weeks he’s most interested in drafting a defensive lineman in the first round of the draft, so Pauline’s report goes along with those comments.

On Monday, Rotoworld’s Evan Silva tweeted that Pauline is pretty good at predicting the Cowboys’ off-season moves as seen below:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/evansilva/status/186885773201637376″]

Poe would be a great pick for the Cowboys at No. 14 overall; he’s quick and limber enough to play defensive tackle in Dallas’ 3-4 scheme, but can also move outside and play defensive end as well. At 6’3″ and 346 lbs., Poe is a little big for defensive tackle compared to the Cowboys’ Jay Ratliff, but his athleticism allows him to play down low as well as outside.

Poe’s 40-yard dash time of 4.91 proves he’s very fast for his size; he was one of only three players over 300 lbs. to break 5.0 seconds and the other two were under 305. He also showed off superb quickness with a 4.56 in the 20-yard shuttle and 7.90 in the three-cone drill at the NFL Combine. Although he was virtually unheard of before the Combine, these numbers combined with his size propelled him all the way to the outskirts of the top 10 overall players available in the draft.

That’s not to say Poe wasn’t a solid player at Memphis, he recorded 21.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in 30 starts with the Tigers. What stands out about Poe is the brute strength he possesses in addition to his athleticism. His 44 reps of 225 lbs. on the bench press at the Combine were the best of any player this year.

That brute strength is what has NFL teams drooling over him because scouts and film junkies have noted Poe is not very good with his hands and one went as far as to say he will be a “dominant player” once he learns how to use his hands to fight off blockers. Poe is very quick off the line and has a great jump at the snap, which is uncharacteristic of players his size and this only adds to his value heading into the draft.

Poe could easily unseat Kenyon Coleman for a starting defensive end spot for the Cowboys in 2012 or he could man the middle if Dallas decides to move Ratliff to end. Either way, he’d be a great pick for the Cowboys if Pauline is correct about Dallas’ interest in Poe. Rob Ryan wants “bullies” on his defensive line and Poe fits that role much better than what the Cowboys have now with the exception of Ratliff. Poe is a Ryan kind of player and it would make a ton of sense for Dallas to draft him No. 14 overall this year.

Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin or on Facebook at Jeric Griffin – Rant Sports

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