Dontari Poe will prove to be the most pivotal signing of this offseason for the Falcons. He’s either going to be a tremendous asset in the middle of the defense, a spot where Atlanta struggled at times in 2016, or he’ll prove to be an $8 million investment that cost Atlanta a shot at other players. I’m guessing (and hoping) the former, but one never knows.
You’ve heard from us—we like the signing. Does the rest of the NFL punditry? We took a spin around the Interwebs to see what kind of grades were being handed out for the newest Falcon, and you’ll find those below.
The good news is that we’re not the only one who are bullish on Poe in Atlanta.
During the Falcons’ Super Bowl run, the team’s young and speedy defense found a rhythm in the latter half of the year. Still, the team finished near the bottom of the NFL in total defense and bolstering the unit is top priority. Adding nearly 350 pounds to the middle of the defensive line is a great way to start and will benefit all aspects of the Atlanta defense.
As a result, the Memphis product had to settle for a one-year, $8-million deal with the Falcons. The deal makes sense as a replacement for 35-year-old Jonathan Babineaux, who remains an unrestricted free agent and may retire. The Falcons had the league's fourth-worst rush-defense DVOA last season, and while Atlanta has made a conscious choice to sacrifice strength for speed, the 346-pound Poe gives Dan Quinn a mauling nose tackle on the interior of his defense. Given that Scott Pioli was the Chiefs general manager when Kansas City selected Poe in the first round of the 2012 draft, it's not an enormous surprise to see Poe head to Georgia.
The Falcons’ options up front will allow coach Dan Quinn to be creative with his personnel, mixing and matching as the situation demands. Poe was a three-down player in Kansas City, to the point that he rarely came off the field. He should have more of a chance to catch his breath with the Falcons.
Poe is probably a bit overrated and is coming off a down year, but he's still a nimble mountain of a man and has two Pro Bowl nods under his belt at the age of 26. And he undoubtedly makes a young defense better by bringing size and experience to the front. For a one-year, $8 million commitment, that's golden.
I love this signing. The Falcons are potentially getting a dominant presence in the interior of their defensive line. If Poe can't get healthy, then Atlanta isn't risking anything because it can just cut ties with him after this season. This is all reward with no risk.