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Monday, July 21, 2014

First-round pick Dontari Poe signs with Chiefs

By Randy Covitz
Kansas City Star

Chiefs rookie nose tackle Dontari Poe spent the past few weeks completing all the requisite duties befitting a first-round draft pick.

He shopped at Nebraska Furniture Mart and decorated his new Kansas City apartment. He met some friends on the East Coast and returned home to Memphis last weekend for a quick visit with family.

And on Thursday morning, just a few hours before the Chiefs reported to Missouri Western for the opening of training camp, the club announced that Poe signed his first NFL contract.

Terms were not released, but it is believed Poe, the 11th overall pick from the University of Memphis, signed a four-year deal worth about $11 million. That would put him between the four-year, $12.1 million contract cornerback Stephon Gilmore (10th pick) signed with Buffalo and the four-year, $10.2 million deal defensive lineman Fletcher Cox (12th pick) signed with Philadelphia.

The Chiefs did not make Poe available to the 25-or-so reporters camped out at Missouri Western on Thursday evening, and neither general manager Scott Pioli nor coach Romeo Crennel commented on the signing.

Veteran wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is the Chiefs’ only unsigned player. Bowe, the club’s franchise player, has yet to sign the one-year tender offer of about $9.5 million. Until he does, he is not required to appear at camp.

Poe’s mother Sandra, reached by telephone in Memphis, was thrilled that her son came to an agreement. Only three other first-round draft picks have yet to sign as camps are opening throughout the league this weekend — wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick by Jacksonville; quarterback Ryan Tannehill, No. 8 by Miami; and wide receiver Kendall Wright, No. 20 by Tennessee.

“It’s such a relief,” Sandra Poe said. “I can breathe now. I’m pretty sure Dontari can. He’s kind of anxious. I didn’t have any doubts he’d sign. He was pretty confident he would be there and not miss many days. He’s all in good spirits and excited.”

Poe (6-foot-3, 346 pounds) played in 35 games with 30 starts at Memphis from 2009-11. Some draft experts questioned his production and his level of intensity at Memphis, which plays in a non-BCS automatic qualifier conference, Conference USA.

Poe made 101 career tackles with five sacks and four forced fumbles at Memphis, which went 2-10 last season and 3-21 during the past two seasons. But Poe, a two-time state shot put champion in high school, displayed remarkable athletic ability at the combine, leading all participants in the weight room by squatting 700 pounds and bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times while also showing some nimble feet.

Though Poe may have been a reach with the No. 11 overall pick, the Chiefs badly needed a nose tackle in their 3-4 front, especially with the retirement of Kelly Gregg, and selected Poe as the first of eight defensive linemen who went in the first round.

“He’s prepared, he’s ready to get back in and do his thing and prove the doubters wrong,” said Sandra Poe, who helped her son move in earlier this week. “He’s really anxious to get out there and make Kansas City know that they made the right choice. I can’t wait to come to the games.”

Poe impressed some of his teammates during the offseason program.

“He has great hands and great speed,” said backup defensive back Travis Daniels, one of two veteran players made available to reporters Thursday.

“I’ve seen him get off the line and get past the center pretty quick a couple of times.

“With a guy like that who is able to do things like that … whenever you’ve got that pass rush putting that heat on the quarterback, it makes the secondary’s job easy. We’re definitely expecting big things from him. We’re not going to put too much pressure on him, but hopefully we’ll be able to maximize his talents.”

Poe’s mother is looking forward to what her son plans to buy her with part of his signing bonus.

“It’s coming,” she said with a laugh. “I should be house shopping, soon.”

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