This much is clear regarding Dontari Poe, the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick: He comes by his size honestly. The Chiefs say he is 346 pounds and, judging from his considerable physical presence Friday at the start of a three-day rookie camp, that figure isn’t inflated.
But can he be the dominant monster they’ve lacked in the middle of their defensive line? The answer to that question will have to wait for another day.
The Chiefs wore little in the way of pads and contact was minimal, so it wasn’t going to be a day for the big guys to shine.
“Not much because there’s no contact,’’ coach Romeo Crennel said when asked what could be learned about Poe on such a day. “He’s playing a position where contact rules when the ball is snapped during a game. We have to teach him the technique but we have to get him in pads to be able to polish the technique. Until that time, we can see some improvement. You see improvement with the guy hitting a bag and trying to understand.”
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These practices are for the skill players to show off. One who did was wide receiver Devon Wylie, a fourth-round pick. Speed at his position is otherwise scarce for the Chiefs but Wylie showed plenty of it.
“What he was advertised as, it showed,’’ Crennel said. “He has really good quickness. He runs pretty good routes. I think he’ll be able to get a step on defenders and have a chance to make plays.’’
That would obviously be of benefit to the Chiefs. But fast receivers are relatively easy to find.
Nose tackles who weigh 346 pounds and have the athletic ability of a person 100 or more pounds lighter aren’t easy to find. Poe has that combination, which is why the Chiefs selected him with the 11th pick of the draft last month.
The Chiefs, who have just 38 players participating in the camp, were thin at some positions, so they spent little time working as a full offense against a full defense. They worked mainly on individual and position drills as well as special teams.
Poe spent a good portion of the practice session working alone on drills and techniques with defensive line coach Anthony Pleasant. Otherwise, he did little to catch the eye.
“No, not really other than the fact he worked pretty (well) during the course of practice,’’ Crennel said. “Coach Pleasant spent a lot of time with him. He has a way to go because he’s learning a different system. Until he can get his footwork down, his stance, his technique with his hands . . . That will come but it will take a little time.’’
For Poe, it was just the start of what promises to be a long process.
“I learned a lot on the first day,” Poe said. “More than I thought I would. But it’s all a process so I’m doing the best I can day by day.
“I’m trying to learn everything I can. There’s a big mental part to this game and the learning curve in the NFL is pretty big. You really don’t do too much of this kind of technique in college. I’m just trying to come in here and learn the mental part of it as much as I can now. The physical part will come to me.’’
The Chiefs have bigger expectations for Poe than any of their other rookies. They believe he can not only help what last year was the NFL’s 26th-rated run defense, but he will be asked to provide the pressure they’ve frequently lacked from the middle of their pass rush.
If Poe can provide those elements as a rookie, the Chiefs should be able to contend for the AFC West championship. If not, they could be looking at their second straight last place finish.
So all eyes were fixed on Poe on Friday, something that will happen often as the Chiefs continue their off-season preparations.
“It may be but that really doesn’t concern me,’’ Poe said. “Whether I’m the first pick or the last pick, I’m going to come out here and give it my all. That’s what I’ll continue to do.”