Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

VINNY DiTRANI'S NFL DRAFT PREVIEW

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

VINNY DiTRANI'S NFL DRAFT PREVIEW

Article excerpt

The NFL might consider a yearly "Mike Mamula Award" for the player who most improves his draft stock at the Combine in February.

Mamula was the Boston College defensive end who jettisoned himself into the top 10 by benching 28 reps of 225 pounds and running a 4.58 40-yard dash at the 1995 Combine. He was one of the first players to train for the event, something every player does these days.

If there were a Mamula Award in 2012, the hands-down winner would have been Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe. The 346-pound Poe had everyone checking their watches when he ran a 4.98 in the 40 while benching 225 pounds 44 times and turning in eye-popping numbers in the other drills.

Poe, like Mamula, was considered a decent prospect heading into the Combine. But now he figures to be at least a midround selection in Thursday's first round.

Mamula, selected seventh by the Eagles in '95, went on to have a modest, injury-plagued career, notching 31 sacks in six seasons. Poe's brilliant workout numbers do not guarantee him becoming a success in the NFL.

In fact, as one scout said, "Watch him on tape and he never makes a play."

There are some safer selections available in what is a top- flight defensive tackle class. Players such as LSU's Michael Brockers and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox put up Combine numbers more in line with their level of play.

Yet some team will take on the task of molding this freak of nature into a Pro Bowl player, probably as a nose tackle. Poe fits the Casey Hampton-Vince Wilfork mold as someone whose athletics skills belie his enormous size.

"I see myself as someone who can rush the passer a lot more than people think," Poe said while critiquing his abilities. "I am used to playing nose tackle, but I've played some five-technique. I'm pretty comfortable anywhere on the defensive line.

"I think I'm explosive, very explosive. That's probably my biggest strength. Most people think just because I'm big I do nothing but power-rush you. But I try to use my quickness to my advantage."

Poe concedes, however, he needs to work on some aspects of his game. "Just overall consistency," he said. "I need to maintain my level of play throughout the course of a whole game."

Sidebar:

Defensive tackles Player, School, Height, Weight, 40-time (Projected round)

*Michael Brockers, LSU, 6-6 1/4, 322, 5. …

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