April 26, 2012
Declaring for the NFL Draft a year early paid off for junior defensive lineman Dontari Poe as he was selected 11th by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday evening. Poe is the first Memphis Tiger selected in the first round since DeAngelo Williams was the 27th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Poe (6-3, 346) is the first-ever defensive lineman for Memphis to be selected in the first round, and is the first defensive player drafted in the first round since defensive back Jerome Woods was selected as the 28th overall pick, also by the Kansas City Chiefs, in 1996. The last U of M defensive lineman drafted was Clinton McDonald, who was picked in the seventh round of the 2009 Draft (249 overall pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals. McDonald is also the most recent Tiger to be drafted.
Poe participated in the NFL Combine and put up impressive numbers, including a Combine-leading 44 reps in the bench press set at 225 pounds and turned in a 40 time of 4.98 seconds. As the 11th overall pick of this year's Draft, Poe becomes the earliest Conference USA player ever to be selected.
In 2011 as a redshirt-junior, Poe was a second teamer on the All-Conference USA Team and was an honorable mention All-America pick by Pro Football Weekly. He tallied 33 tackles, including 18 solo stops, and was third on the team in TFL with eight for minus 26 yards in 2011. Poe also posted a sack, three pass breakups, five quarterback hurries and one forced fumble throughout the campaign.
The Memphis native (Wooddale HS) made 30 starts in his 35 games played for the Tigers, including starting the last 25 consecutive games. He finished his three-year career in the Blue and Gray with 101 tackles, including 21.5 TFL for minus 66 yards. At the 2011 post-season team banquet, Poe was named a co-MVP and the team's Defensive Player of the Year.