American Football Database
Dontari Poe
Poe with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014
No. 95     
Nose tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1990-08-18) August 18, 1990 (age 31)
Place of birth: Memphis, Tennessee
Career information
College: Memphis
NFL Draft: 2012 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Kansas City Chiefs ( 2012 2016)
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
* 2× Pro Bowl (2013, 2014)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2013)
  • Second-team All-Conference-USA (2011)
  • Honorable mention All-Conference-USA (2010)
  • Conference-USA All-Freshman (2009)
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Total tackles     256
Sacks     16.5
Forced fumbles     2
Fumble recoveries     1
Total touchdowns     3

Dontari Poe (born August 18, 1990) is an American football nose tackle for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Memphis and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs 11th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Though primarily a defensive lineman, at 6 ft 3 in and 346 lbs, he is also known for being the largest player to either rush or pass for a touchdown[1] while also having a 100% pass completion percentage, passing TD, and rushing TD.[2]

High school career

Poe entered Wooddale High School in Memphis, Tennessee without any prior football experience. His coach, Cedric Miller, had spotted Poe practicing with the marching band in the summer before Poe's freshman year at Wooddale, and told him to report to football practice the next day.[3]

By his junior season, he was an all-state honorable mention defensive lineman and credited with 63 tackles and eight sacks. Besides his hometown school Memphis, he was recruited by Auburn, Colorado, and Mississippi.[4] Ole Miss invited him to their annual Junior Day. Particularly keen on early playing time, Poe also liked Auburn, because "they have two defensive tackles [Quentin Groves and Pat Sims] that are leaving early, so there is a good chance I will play early if I go there."[4]

Also a talented shot putter, Poe earned the Class 3-A title at the state meet with a throw of 56 ft 3 14 in (17.15 m) as a junior. In his senior year, he defended his title with a throw of 54 ft 1 14 in (16.49 m), and also won the discus throw in the state meet with a personal best throw of 156 ft 1 in (47.57 m). Poe claimed city, district and region track titles as a senior.

Poe was regarded only as a two-star prospect by both and[5][6] He was ranked No. 92 by Scout, in a crop of defensive tackles that was highlighted by Marcus Forston and DeAngelo Tyson,[7] while Rivals did not have him listed among their top 75 defensive tackles,[8] but as the No. 19 overall prospect out of Tennessee.[9]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Dontari Poe
Memphis, Tennessee Wooddale (TN) 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 315 lb (143 kg) 5.0 Feb 6, 2008 
Scout:2/5 stars   Rivals:2/5 stars   ESPN grade: 74
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 92 (DT)   Rivals: NR (DT), 19 (TN)  ESPN: 69 (DT)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout and Rivals may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, an average of the two was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College career

Poe played for the Memphis Tigers football team of the University of Memphis from 2009 to 2011. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he played in 11 of 12 games for the Tigers—he did not play against Houston (November 21) due to a death in his family—including six starts at nose tackle, and finished the year with 27 tackles, including 18 solo stops. He led the team in tackles for losses with seven, and tied for the team lead in forced fumbles with three. He also added two quarterback sacks, which tied for third-most. His performance earned him a Conference USA All-Freshman Team selection.[10]

In his sophomore year, Poe became a consistent starter on the defensive line. He was one of six Tigers to start all 12 games in 2010, and ended the year ranked fifth on the team in tackles with 41, and fourth in TFL with 6.5 (for a total loss of 27 yards). In the season opener against Mississippi State, he registered three tackles (all solo stops), all of which limited the Bulldogs to three or fewer yards, including one that was for a loss of four yards. In a game versus UTEP, Poe had a season-high seven tackles, four of which limited the Miners to fewer than three yards. He also managed to sack UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe on a 3rd-and-8 in the first quarter for a loss of five yards. In October at Louisville, Poe registered six tackles (four solo). In recognition of his successful season, Poe earned an All-Conference-USA honorable mention.

Prior to his junior season, he drew attention for his weight room performance and was named one of the "10 strongest men in college football" by ESPN′s Bruce Feldman.[11][12] During the season, Poe started all 12 games on the defensive line and recorded at least one tackle in each game, tallying 33 tackles, 18 of which were solo stops. He also ranked third on the team with eight TFLs (for a loss of 26 yards). In November, in a game against Marshall, Poe tied his career high in tackles with eight. He was selected second-team All-Conference USA, and was listed as an honorable mention All-America pick by Pro Football Weekly, which evaluates players on NFL prospects and draft value rather just college production.[13]

On December 23, 2011, Poe announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.[14] Soon thereafter, he announced that he signed with agent Jimmy Sexton of Creative Artists Agency.[15] He concluded his college career having played in 35 contests (30 starts), recording 101 tackles (57 unassisted), 21.5 TFL, five sacks, four pass break-ups and four forced fumbles.

Professional career

2012 NFL Draft

Can you believe he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds? Poe looks like a refrigerator. He’s not supposed to move like that. The most impressive part was his first 10 yards. He showed some explosiveness, and forgive me for saying this, but I saw a little bit of myself in him.

Warren Sapp, former All-Pro defensive tackle.[16]

Entering the NFL Combine as a potential second rounder, Poe impressed with an "epic workout performance" according to ESPN's Todd McShay, who afterwards projected him to go as high as No. 11 to the Kansas City Chiefs.[17] draft analyst Mike Mayock upgraded Poe from No. 3 to No. 1 in his defensive tackle positional ranking.[18][19] Poe particularly impressed with a 4.98 sec 40-yard dash, despite at 346 pounds (157 kg) being the fifth-heaviest defensive linemen to weigh in at the NFL Combine since 2000—behind only Terrence Cody, Ahmad Childress, Frank Okam, and Alameda Ta'amu.[20] Additionally, he recorded 44 repetitions in the bench press, which tied Brodrick Bunkley for fourth-most since 2000.[21][22] Due to his raw athleticism, some in the media afterwards compared him to All-Pro defensive lineman Haloti Ngata.[23] Barack Obama referred to Poe while making a guest appearance on The B.S. Report stating; “They just had the Combine and they were talking about some guy who’s like 340 and runs a 4.8 and has a three-foot vertical,” Obama said. “I don’t know what you do if a guy like that hits you.”[24]

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 3½ in 346 lb 4.98 s 1.67 s 2.83 s 4.56 s 7.90 s 29½ in 8 ft 9 in 44 rep

Poe was originally perceived as "the ideal two-gap 3–4 nose tackle" due to his massive frame,[25] but former NFL defensive lineman John Thornton described Poe as "more of a move guy than a big space eater," able to play in a 4–3 defense, too.[26] However, Thornton also uttered concerns over Poe's mediocre college career. According to Jonathan Bales of the New York Times, Poe was "the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect—loaded with potential, but failing to capitalize on it in college."[27] The Sporting News compared Poe to Ryan Sims and Jimmy Kennedy, two highly selected lineman who "were immensely talented yet struggled because of inconsistent effort and competitiveness."[28]

In March 2012, Poe's draft stock peaked when he was listed at No. 9 by ESPN′s Mel Kiper, Jr.,[29] and No. 6 by Sports Illustrated′s Don Banks.[30] "He’ll be overdrafted," an unnamed NFL scout told the Times of Trenton, while nevertheless acknowledging that "he’s the most athletic over 300-pound man in this draft, or a lot of other drafts."[31] After analysing game tape, Mike Mayock downgraded Poe from No. 1 to No. 4 among defensive tackles, describing him as "a freaky athlete with a good motor" who, however, "needs to get into a good locker room with a mentor in that defensive line group" to develop into a high-quality NFL player.[32] While acknowledging his lack of production in college, Bucky Brooks pointed out "Poe's blue-chip qualities (size, athleticism and strength) and the immense importance of the [nose tackle] position".[33] According to The Sporting News's Russ Lande, Poe's draft stock plummeted in the weeks before the draft, amid concerns over his poor production at Memphis.[34]

Sports Illustrated graded Poe as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the draft, behind only Fletcher Cox.[35] Eventually, he was the first defensive lineman off the board, selected eleventh overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. Poe was the highest drafted player from Memphis since Keith Simpson (No. 9 in 1978), and the highest drafted player from Conference USA ever. He was also the third defensive lineman Kansas City selected in the first round within five years, following Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson.[36] Chiefs head coach, Romeo Crennel, said he was not worried about Poe's mediocre college statistics, "because he played every down at 350 pounds and he played every position on the line in every game."[37]

Kansas City Chiefs

2012 season

Poe was expected to succeed veteran Kelly Gregg at the defensive tackle position in Kansas City's 3–4 defense, although head coach Crennel acknowledged that "it's going to take a while for [Poe] to get adjusted."[38] On the eve of training camp, July 26, 2012, Poe agreed to terms with the Chiefs, signing a four-year deal with a fifth-year team option.[39] Per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it was reported to be worth about $11 million.[40] Competing with Anthony Toribio and Jerrell Powe for the starting nose tackle spot left void by Gregg, Poe disappointed in training camp. "He needs to work on technique, he needs to work on understanding the system, he needs to get the calls correct all the time. He's got a ways to go," said Crennel.[41]

After spending the first three preseason games on the bench, Poe was moved into the starting lineup after Toribio injured his ankle.[42] He established himself as a starter, and remained in the starting lineup for his entire rookie season, starting all 16 regular season games at nose tackle and being a three-down player for most of the season. He recorded 38 tackles, including 28 unassisted. Even though he did not record a quarterback sack, he was credited for his contributions as an inside rusher in obvious passing situations.[43] Particularly, his efforts against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10 and Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 were praised.[43][44] In Week 15, he registered a season-best five tackles in a loss against Oakland.

According to The Sporting News, Poe as a rookie appeared to be more advanced in grasping the Chiefs’ two-gap system than either Dorsey or Jackson as a rookie.[43] “I’m a much better player than when I first got here,” Poe told the publication. “I came here a little afraid, but now I kind of know what’s going on.”[43] The Kansas City Star named Poe the Chiefs' Rookie of the Year.[45]

2013 season

After not recording a quarterback sack in his rookie season, Poe tallied 3.5 sacks over the first two games of the 2013 NFL season. Increasingly drawing double-teams afterwards, he only added one sack over the rest of the season. Twelve games into his sophomore season, Poe lined up on 804 defensive snaps, which was 85 more than any other defensive tackle in the NFL that season.[46] After the 2013 season concluded, Poe was selected to participate in the annual Pro Bowl.

2014 season

During the 2014 season, Poe started all 16 games with six sacks and a pass defended on 46 tackles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for a second year in a row.

2015 season

During Week 11 against the San Diego Chargers, Poe became the heaviest player in NFL history to rush for a touchdown.[47] He was only the sixth defensive lineman to rush for a touchdown. In 15 games, Poe made 39 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.

2016 season

Poe scored his second rushing touchdown in as many attempts in an October game against the Oakland Raiders in a play called "Hungry Pig Right"[48][49] where four players lined up in a diamond formation sending "over 1,100 pounds rushing toward the end zone."[50]

In a December 25 game against the Denver Broncos in Week 16, Poe became the largest player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass. After being put in on offense, he lined up in the wildcat formation, took the direct snap, faked a run up the middle, then threw a touchdown pass to tight end Demetrius Harris while jumping in the air.[51] In the post game press conference, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid called the play the "Bloated Tebow pass" referring to a play when Tim Tebow was the quarterback at Florida and he threw a touchdown pass while jumping after faking a quarterback sneak.[52] In 16 games, Poe finished the year with 27 tackles, a forced fumble, 1.5 sacks, and three passes defended.

Atlanta Falcons

On March 16, 2017, Poe signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.[53][54] Poe made a bonus of $125,000 after passing his July 26 weigh-in. He could make up to $500,000 in weight-loss incentive bonuses as part of his one-year contract.

Carolina Panthers

File:Alex Smith (45326544141).jpg

Poe (right) playing against the Washington Redskins in 2018.

On March 15, 2018, Poe signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.[55][56]

Career statistics

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Solo Ast Sack Int Yards Avg Lng TD PD FF FR Yards TD
2012 KC 16 16 38 28 10 0.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0
2013 KC 15 15 51 43 8 4.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0
2014 KC 16 16 45 37 8 6.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
2015 KC 15 13 39 29 10 1.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
2016 KC 16 16 27 18 9 1.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0
2017 ATL 16 16 39 23 16 2.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
2018 CAR 16 16 17 9 8 1.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 110 108 256 187 69 16.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 14 2 1 0 0

Personal life

The youngest of three brothers (Pierre and Robert, Jr.), Poe grew up in the Whitehaven neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee.[3] Peter Schrager of Fox Sports compared Poe's background to Michael Oher's, which has been the subject of the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.[57]

With a loan from his agent, Jimmy Sexton, Poe bought his mother a 2012 Cadillac Escalade for her birthday in January 2012.[58][59] He later also bought her a house in the upscale Collierville suburb of Memphis.[60]


  3. 3.0 3.1 Fox, Ashley (April 5, 2012). "Dontari Poe races up the charts".
  4. 4.0 4.1 Porter, Yancy (March 14, 2007). "Memphis' top DT talks recruiting".
  5. "".
  6. "Recruiting Football Team News, Scout".
  7. "Recruiting Football Team News, Scout".
  8. "".
  9. "".
  10. "C-USA Announces Football All-Freshman Team". December 8, 2009.
  11. Feldman, Bruce (April 20, 2011). "Top 10 strongest men in college football". ESPN Insider.
  12. One of the NCAA's Strongest at YouTube
  13. "PFW 2011 All-America team". Pro Football Weekly. December 11, 2011. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012.
  14. "Dontari Poe says he's entering draft". December 23, 2011.
  15. "Memphis Defensive Tackle Dontari Poe Signs With Jimmy Sexton". Sports Agent Blog. December 26, 2011.
  16. "Official Blog of the National Football League".
  17. McShay, Todd (February 27, 2012). "Poe leads impressive DL group". ESPN.
  18. Mayock, Mike (February 14, 2012). "Pre-combine position rankings for 2012 NFL Draft".
  19. Mayock, Mike (March 5, 2012). "Post-combine position rankings for 2012 NFL Draft".
  20. Feldman, Bruce (February 27, 2012). "Dontari Poe: More than just a Combine Freak?". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012.
  21. Tadych, Frank (February 26, 2010). "Arkansas’ Petrus ties combine record in bench press". Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  22. "Top Performers (Bench Press – OL)". Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  23. Hensley, Jamison (February 28, 2011). "Memphis' Dontari Poe won't fall to Steelers". ESPN.
  24. "Even President Obama is impressed with Dontari Poe | ProFootballTalk". Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  25. "Stock soars for receiver, lineman at NFL combine". February 29, 2012.
  26. "Memphis' Dontari Poe opens eyes at NFL Combine".
  27. Bales, Jonathan (March 1, 2012). "Scouting the Draft: Memphis's Dontari Poe".
  28. "Analyzing SN's No. 36 prospect, Memphis DT Dontari Poe". Sporting News. March 20, 2012.
  29. Kiper, Mel (March 7, 2012). "2012 NFL Mock Draft 3.0". ESPN Insider.
  30. Banks, Don (March 23, 2012). "2012 NFL Mock Draft 3.0".
  31. Eckel, Mark (April 1, 2012). "Poe might not be as good as scouting combine performance". Times of Trenton.
  32. "Mayock lowers Poe’s draft ranking: ‘The tape is very average’". April 2, 2012.
  33. Brooks, Bucky (April 5, 2012). "Poe, Osweiler, Adams headline roller-coaster draft prospects".
  34. Lande, Russ (April 19, 2012). "Dontari Poe no longer draft darling". Sporting News.
  35. " Positional Ranking DT".
  36. Williamson, Bill (April 26, 2012). "Crennel is key to Dontari Poe pick".
  37. Williamson, Bill (April 27, 2012). "Why Poe didn't dominate at Memphis".
  38. Teicher, Adam (May 5, 2012). "Poe’s first lesson: The NFL is different and difficult". Kansas City Star.
  39. "Dontari Poe inks deal; Chiefs to open training camp with all draft picks under contract".
  40. Covitz, Randy (July 26, 2012). "First-round pick Dontari Poe signs with Chiefs". Kansas City Star.
  41. "Dontari Poe has 'a ways to go' for Chiefs, coach says".
  42. "Dontari Poe earns first start for Chiefs against Packers".
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 Teicher, Adam (December 4, 2012). "Massive Dontari Poe shows sliver of impact potential for Chiefs". Sporting News.
  44. Dontari Poe's Development on Display in Kansas City's 16–13 OT Loss on YouTube
  45. "Chiefs Blitz - The good, the bad and the ugly from this season".
  46. "Chiefs' Dontari Poe always in the middle of the action". USA Today. December 3, 2013.
  47. "Video: Poe rushes for a touchdown". YouTube. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  51. "Dontari Poe's offensive role expands to throwing TD pass".
  52. "Andy Reid on Poe's TD toss: 'Bloated Tebow Pass'".
  53. Wesseling, Chris (March 16, 2017). "Dontari Poe, Atlanta Falcons agree on one-year deal".
  54. Jackson, Curtis (March 16, 2017). "Falcons Agree To Terms With DT Dontari Poe".
  55. Sessler, Marc (March 15, 2018). "Panthers signing former Falcons DT Dontari Poe".
  56. Henson, Max (March 16, 2018). "Panthers sign Dontari Poe to three-year contract".
  57. Schrager, Peter (April 27, 2012). "Poe never lost focus en route to NFL". Fox Sports.
  58. Higgins, Ron (April 22, 2012). "Mother, coaches proud of University of Memphis' NFL-bound Dontari Poe Mentors instrumental in helping DT believe dreams attainable". Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  59. Dontari Poe buys mom 2012 Escalade on YouTube
  60. "A mother’s love fueled Dontari Poe’s rise to stardom with Chiefs". Kansas City Star. October 20, 2013.

External links