Some Stud Underclassmen

* One player I’ve been remiss in talking about is Memphis DT Dontari Poe. I finally decided to study him at length this weekend. Glad I did.

Poe is just a Junior. He lists at 6’5, 350. Not sure he’s that tall, but he does have a thick build. Big dude. You expect him to be Terrence Cody, but that couldn’t be a worse comparison. Memphis uses him as the 3-technique DT most of the time (think Warren Sapp). They ran a zone blitz on one play and Poe dropped back into coverage. Wow, is all I can say. Guys his size should not move like that. Showed better agility than you see from some ILBs. I re-watched the play several times to make sure I wasn’t crazy. Later on he actually topped that. Once again it was a zone blitz. Poe dropped back, saw a WR coming over on a crossing route. Poe buzzed underneath and then hugged up on him in coverage. My jaw almost hit the floor as I saw this. Massive DTs just don’t do things like that. They don’t have the feet or agility, let alone the coverage awareness.

Poe isn’t just a dancing bear. He’s able to shed blocks and stuff inside runs. He did that a couple of times. He also can get upfield and be disruptive. Good rip move. He’s quick off the ball. Finished his career with 21.5 TFLs. That’s a solid total for a big DT in just 3 years.

3-4 teams will want this guy as a NT. Poe has the size and ability to handle that, but he will have to learn how to be a big bully in the NFL. Memphis used him in a way that took advantage of his skills rather than just his size. He’s not accustomed to just eating up blocks. Doesn’t always play up to his size. There was a run play in the game where the RT caved him in with a down block and the RB went for a big gain through that area. A guy Poe’s size should be more stout, even against a down block.

What is his value? Not sure. I need to watch a couple of more games. I know I’m intrigued as heck. Huge, agile, and athletic is a great combination. Could go as high as the mid-1st.

* Another player I’ve not written about is WR Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers. I very quickly fell in love with watching him. Junior. Lists at 6’2, 215. Athletic. Has played QB and WR. Also has some RS experience. Extremely productive this year. Went 115-1206-7. Caught 210 passes and 12 TDs in his career. Also ran for 653 yards and 9 TDs in his career.

I love the fact that Sanu plays like a man. Moves the chains by catching a ton of short passes. Works the middle better than anyone else I’ve seen. Takes a pounding while doing it. Just gets up, tosses the ball to the ref, and goes back to the huddle. Some WRs don’t like the middle. Others act like they deserve a national holiday any time they take a hit from a LB. Sanu is all business.

Sanu has good hands. He can make some really tough catches. He adjusts well to the ball. Rutgers didn’t exactly have Joe Montana throwing the ball to him. Sanu was able to go low, extend high, and even reach behind him for passes. Has very good RAC ability. He’s strong enough to break tackles. Has good speed if he’s gets some space to work with. He isn’t going to make a lot of guys miss with elusive moves, but most bigger WRs don’t.

One of the things I value the most is his competitive spirit. Fights for every pass. Doesn’t bother him to be double-teamed. Press coverage isn’t a big deal. Sanu wants to win. He wants to make plays and fights to get the ball. Reminds me a bit of Anquan Boldin in that sense. Boldin was (and still is) the ultimate competitor. Sanu isn’t on his level, but is similar.

Could go late 1st or early 2nd. His 40 time will be important.

* DT Michael Brockers had a good year for LSU, but he was only a RS Sophomore so I didn’t pay him all that much attention. Last week he decided to head to the NFL. I really wish he stayed. Very talented player, but also raw. Doesn’t have a ton of starting experience.

Brockers isn’t a playmaker. He is a 2-gap run stuffer. Lists at 6’6, 306. At his best, Brockers uses his hands to control blockers and get to the ball. He’s a strong, physical player. Can shed blocks. Can stuff runners. Doesn’t try to play an upfield game. Moves horizontally and plays the run well.

He does have some quickness off the ball, but LSU seems to pull him off the field in most passing situations. Had 2 sacks in 2 years. Had 10 TFLs this year. Most of those were due to shedding blocks and/or being in the right place at the right time. Wasn’t exploding upfield and being disruptive. That’s not his game.

Does have a pretty good motor. Will hustle in pursuit. Had a good showing in the SEC title game. Had 6 solo tackles, 2 TFLs, batted down a pass, and had a FF.

Brockers has a good frame. Can add weight to it and become really powerful. Has long arms and uses them to keep blockers off his body. Raw at this point, but has upside. 3-4 teams could target him as a DE, but I think he’s a 2-gap DT. Reminds me of a young version of John Henderson, the long time JAX star. Henderson played DT at Tennessee and his coach was John Chavis, who now runs the LSU defense and coached Brockers.

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