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Will Dontari Poe transform this Falcons defense?

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With OTAs underway, it’s time to consider the biggest (literally) addition to the Falcons defensive line.

Kansas City Chiefs v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When the Falcons finally stopped wooing Dontari Poe and got down to the business of actually signing him, we could finally grapple with his fit in the defense. Our conclusion at the time of the signing was that Poe was a big (ha) addition who should help the Falcons improve their sometimes struggling run defense and potentially offer some upside as a pass rusher. That’s especially true now that we know Poe is going to slim down.

As we edge closer to seeing him in action, the big question is whether Poe will prove to be simply a solid addition to a growing defense, or a piece that could transform the whole thing into an #elite unit.

The case for Poe

Simply put, Poe is a better player than any defensive tackle on this roster whose name isn’t Grady Jarrett. As a run defender, it’s fair to argue there is no one better.

Arrowhead Pride took a closer look at Poe a while back and found that he’s probably a better pass rusher and worse run defender than he’s commonly given credit for, and a player who doesn’t consistently dominate in the way his tools would suggest he could. The Falcons are hoping that getting his weight down will help with the play-to-play results, but the talent really isn’t in question.

What’s the impact on this Falcons defense if Poe is healthy, lighter, and playing at a similar level to where he has been in years past? Consider that Poe is taking some of the snaps of Jonathan Babineaux, who showed only flashes of his tremendous peak self in 2016, and Ra’Shede Hageman, who really only came on in the second half of the season, and you’ve got an idea. He’s a legitimate upgrade on a line that was too often too easy to run on and too often inconsistent chasing the quarterback, no matter how much that all improved down the stretch, and that kind of upgrade will make a massive difference for the linebackers behind him.

The case against Poe

We simply don’t know how many snaps Poe is going to get in a given game. If he’s a three down player much of the time, there’s little question he’ll have a major impact. If he’s ceding third down and passing down work to Jack Crawford, Derrick Shelby, Adrian Clayborn and others, however, he’ll still be an asset.

The chief argument against Poe being a difference maker is that he hasn’t been over the last couple of seasons as part of a very good Chiefs defense. He has been good, and has shown flashes of excellence, but he’s played 31 games and offered very little as a pass rusher and quality but not elite run-stopping ability up front. Losing weight and joining a new defense with a new emphasis may bring his natural ability back to the fore, but I don’t think we can count on that.

Poe’s likely only a short-term signing for this defense, but I think it’s fair to say that the size and physicality he brings to the interior of the defensive line could push this Falcons defense over the hump. Even if he only caps out as a quality starter, this team should continue to grow into a force on the defensive side of the ball for the first time in...well, a long ass time.

Poll

What kind of impact will Dontari Poe have on the Falcons defense?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    HE WILL TRANSFORM IT
    (720 votes)
  • 62%
    He’ll be a quality addition
    (1361 votes)
  • 4%
    He’ll be useful, no more
    (93 votes)
  • 0%
    BUST
    (7 votes)
2181 votes total Vote Now