On what feels like a yearly basis, football teams fall in love with players who put together impressive combine performances. Speedy 40 times, exceptional broad jumps, and stupendous three-cone drills immediately wash away years of unimpressive performances on the field.
These players can make or break a franchise, but have the potential to become one of the greatest at their position. Current Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe was exactly this. His selection by current Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli was widely criticized, as many believed Poe was destined to be a bust.
Poe never looked like a dominant player when playing for the Memphis Tigers. Despite the lesser competition, Poe only occasionally showed potential in college. He finished with only five career sacks, but managed to be the first defensive tackle taken in the 2012 draft. Poe has, of course, quickly become a dominant player and made the Pro Bowl in two of his three seasons.
The Falcons have shied away from these athletic freaks under Thomas Dimitroff. We saw Pioli's influence last year when the team selected Ra'Shede Hageman. Some character and effort concerns were overlooked to take a player that could be one of the best in the league.
The Falcons will likely be presented with the chance to select Kentucky pass rusher Alvin Dupree. Like Poe, Dupree tore apart the combine. This quote from NFL analyst Lance Zierlein perfectly sums up Dupree's combine.
Freakish athlete with chiseled frame. Posted incredible 42-inch vertical leap and 4.56 40 at the combine while weighing 269 pounds. Outstanding power with ability to rag-doll tight ends at will. . . . Explosive closing burst. . . . Raw, but learning with huge growth potential as a player.
Dupree had a better college career than Poe, but provides the same question marks and ridiculous upside. While a player like Shane Ray will likely provide a higher floor and quicker impact than Dupree, his athleticism will almost assuredly prevent him from being one of the best in the league.
Pioli may like what he has seen in Dupree. The Kentucky player may even remind him of the player of a player that Pioli selected over other, less risky defensive tackles in 2012. And we may see Pioli take another risky player that could become one of the best in league.