KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs filled one of their biggest needs with a massive gamble.
The Chiefs selected Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe with the No. 11 pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, taking a mammoth run-stuffer whose raw ability and impressive numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine trumped his modest on-field production.
Poe, who's 6-foot-4 and 346 pounds, pushed 44 reps of 225 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.98 seconds. But he was only second-team all-Conference USA after making 33 stops, eight tackles for loss and one sack, flying under the radar most of last season.
"My motivation is pretty much unlimited right now," Poe said on a conference call. "I just want to get in and start proving that I'm ready to play at the next level."
The selection was largely panned at a watch party for season ticket-holders at the Chiefs' practice facility, but general manager Scott Pioli said Poe was high on his draft board, and he wound up making the choice despite two compelling offers to trade down.
"Here's what's not risky about the player: The player fits the mold of the type of player we were looking for physically, for that position," Pioli said. "He fits a need to a degree. He fits everything we believe in, makeup-wise.
"This is not a risky player in a sense that I know, and we know, we have a football player who will come in and do a great job."
Pioli, who has a reputation for being risk-averse, wound up gambling on the considerable upside of Poe rather than take defensive tackles Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State or Michael Brockers of LSU, who put up more impressive numbers in college and were still available when Kansas City went on the clock.
Poe is expected to slide into the middle of Kansas City's 3-4 defense and take the place of Kelly Gregg, although coach Romeo Crennel was quick to say the rookie must earn the starting job.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press