Poe will be a force in the middle for Falcons
Ryan Clark and Jeff Saturday break down what the addition of Dontari Poe means for the Atlanta defense.
The two-time Pro Bowler, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, sounded like a man eager to show his full potential when he addressed the Atlanta-area media for the first time via conference call Friday. Poe talked about the bond he already established with coach Dan Quinn, a bond that helped lead to his selection of the Falcons over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins. Poe agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract that includes incentives that can take it up to $10 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Quinn plans to play Poe at both nose tackle and the 3-technique spot.
"He just said he's going to let me play ball," Poe said of Quinn. "He watched film of me and he saw the ability that I had. He just thought I could be a dominant player, so he's just going to let me play."
To play up to his best potential and play the attacking style Quinn always preaches, Poe has to be at the proper weight. It's something he and Quinn discussed during his visit earlier in the week. Poe said he currently weighs 340 pounds with plans to slim down for the 2017 season.
"He just told me he wanted me to come in and play fast and be aggressive," Poe said, "so around 330 is where I'll play at most of the year. I feel like that will be a comfortable weight for me, too."
Finding a comfortable weight should help Poe thrive in the middle of the Falcons' defense. He'll draw some double-teams, which will free up others to rush the passer and stop the run. But one aspect of Poe's game that might be on display more often than before is his ability to rush the passer. His sheer strength will help him push the pocket, but he has the athleticism to go after and bring down quarterbacks to help Vic Beasley Jr., Grady Jarrett, Adrian Clayborn and the rest of the line.
The system he played in with the Chiefs didn't necessarily feature him in that capacity, but Quinn wants all his defensive linemen to have rush ability.
"This style of defense, like I said, it lets D-linemen play," Poe said. "It lets us play football, it lets us attack, it lets us go do what D-linemen were made to do. I definitely feel like it will be real good for me."
There were questions about Poe's back after he had surgery to fix a herniated disk while with the Chiefs. It didn't keep Poe from missing any game time as he played 781 defensive snaps last season.
"The back is all the way good," Poe said.
Said Quinn about Poe's back: "All good with Dontari's back. We may modify some (workouts, practices), like all guys. But we can't wait to get him into our system and let him get after it."
As for Poe moonlighting as a Wildcat quarterback or fullback in the goal-line offense, as he did in Kansas City, he hasn't had those discussions with Quinn just yet.
"That was nothing I ever talked about; it just kind of happened in K.C.," Poe said of playing offense. "If it happens, it happens. If it don't, I'm here to play defense anyway, so I'm cool with that."