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Free Agency Tracker | 2020

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Bucky Brooks: Scouting Report on Dontari Poe


(Editor's Note: The team welcomes Bucky Brooks to the staff. Bucky brings a wealth of experience, not only as a former NFL player of five seasons, but also as a scout and on the pro personnel side for two teams. In the last decade, Brooks has worked in the media, including the NFL Network. Bucky will provide his own analysis and opinions of the Cowboys but also the entire NFL. Today, he breaks down one of the new free-agent signings in defensive tackle Dontari Poe.)

  • Name: Dontari Poe
  • Position: Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle
  • College: Memphis
  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 345
  • Season: 9th
  • Games Studied: 2019 (Panthers vs. Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and Atlanta)


Poe is a disruptive nose tackle with a game built on strength, power, and explosion. The ninth-year pro entered the NFL viewed as an athletic freak based on his size/strength/athleticism combination (see 4.89-second forty-yard dash and 44 bench reps at 346 pounds at the 2012 NFL Combine) and he's continued to dazzle with his explosive athleticism as a pro. Poe has 20.5 career sacks but is at his best occupying blockers at a run stuffer at the point. He is a rare find at the position as a 350-pounder with the size and strength to "two-gap" from a square position or attack as a one-gap penetrator playing on the edges of a blocker.

Poe bullies blockers with his strength and power, exhibiting an unstoppable bull rush move and butt-and-jerk maneuver. Additionally, he will combine a quick-arm over with an explosive first-step to slip through cracks at the line to meet ball carriers in the hole.

As a pass rusher, Poe is punishing pocket pusher with overwhelming strength and power. He routinely walks blockers into the lap of the quarterback utilizing a variety of power-based maneuvers to win against one-on-one or double teams at the line of scrimmage. Poe's persistence and relentlessness result in a number of garbage sacks when the secondary blankets receivers on the perimeter. Studying the game tape, Poe's stamina, energy, and non-stop motor stand out, particularly on his pass rush efforts. It is hard to find 350-pound defenders who play hard from snap to whistle while logging significant defensive snaps as a three-down player.

Although it is unlikely to see Poe reach double digits as a sack producer, he is a credible threat as a pass rusher and nearly impossible to contain as a run stuffer.


  • Run-stuffing defensive tackle with outstanding strength, power, and explosiveness
  • Dominant 2-gap player at the point of attack
  • High effort player with surprising stamina and endurance for a 350-pound defender
  • Disruptive pocket pusher as a pass rusher


  • Limited impact as a pass rusher
  • Marginal range as a run-and-chase player

What are scouts saying?

Poe is coming off one of his best seasons in 2020. He is an excellent athlete with outstanding strength and power. He is primarily a disruptive interior player as a run stopper but he can get to the quarterback and provide inside pressure. Poe shouldn't be judged by his sack numbers but he is a unique three-down nose tackle with athleticism and power.

How does he fit in with the Cowboys?

Poe gives the Cowboys a disruptive presence on the interior with the potential to play as a one-gap penetrator or two-gap force in a 3-4 or 4-3 front. The two-time Pro Bowler will join Gerald McCoy to give the Cowboys a pair of veteran beefy defenders with outstanding chemistry at the point of attack. Last season, the combination worked well with the Panthers, as they created opportunities for each other with their complementary playing styles. Poe's inside push and McCoy's movement skills disrupted opponent's blocking schemes and helped front seven defenders rack up negative plays on sacks/tackles for losses. With the Cowboys featuring swift linebackers (Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch) and edge defenders (Demarcus Lawrence) in the starting lineup, the insertion of Poe (and McCoy) on the inside should lead to more negative plays (sacks and tackles for loss) from a unit that should be more aggressive and diverse under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

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