Jason Poe is facing the same question now that he did as a high school recruit: Is he an offensive lineman or a fullback?
Then, that question scared away several Division 1 teams. Now, it’s attracting several NFL teams for the upcoming draft.
Poe has become one of the more intriguing prospects who has risen onto draft boards as a potential Day 3 pick. The 6-foot-1 and 300-pounder from FCS member Mercer went from a hidden gem with eye-opening tape to a known name piquing interest amongst NFL franchises after his pro day.
Between Poe’s testing numbers showing off his size/speed/power/agility and his film showing him getting out in space as a pulling guard or lining up in the backfield, NFL teams are excited about what he can do for their offense. As crazy as it looks, he is listed as an interior offensive lineman/fullback prospect.
“They’ve never seen anything like this,” Poe told HERO Sports. “Usually, you take a d-linemen or a linebacker and you put him in the backfield and he can play fullback. They’ve never seen an offensive lineman that’s athletic enough and knows how to do the job of a fullback. I’m a unique guy. A lot of teams like me at guard or center. But some teams like me at fullback.”
Todd McShay raved about Poe in an ESPN segment. And ESPN’s NFL Draft analyst Jordan Reid has Poe being selected by Washington in the seventh round in his mock draft.
Whether he hears his name called in the draft or has multiple options as an undrafted free agent, Poe will have an NFL contract at the end of this month. It will be the culmination of a journey that took him from being a junior college fullback, to an All-American D2 offensive lineman, and then to an All-Conference D1 offensive lineman.
From Fitzgerald, Georgia, a town of fewer than 10,000 people, Poe wasn’t an unknown as a high school recruit. He received interest from teams like Georgia, Michigan, and Kennesaw State. But his size was a concern. Some teams viewed him as a college offensive lineman, the position he played in HS. Others saw him as a fullback. At only 210 pounds in high school, though, he didn’t have the size for either position. Poe said colleges like recruits to be in the 230 range.
So he went the junior college route and attended Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Poe played fullback in 2017 at 6-foot-1 and 249 pounds. Poe then transferred to D2 Lenoir-Rhyne and continued to gain weight while maintaining his athleticism. He returned to his offensive line position and became a top big man in the division. Poe won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best OL in the South Atlantic Conference in 2018 and 2019. He also was named a Second Team All-American in 2018 and a First Team All-American the next season.
That was when it clicked for Poe that he had next-level potential.
“My sophomore year at Lenoir-Rhyne I had scouts come up to me,” Poe said. “I was an All-American and I won the blocking trophy. Man, after that, I knew I was capable of being great so I kept working hard and kept building muscle. It was just up from there.”
COVID pushed the 2020 D2 season back, and Poe did not play in the spring of 2021, electing to focus on graduating before entering the transfer portal. Once officially in the portal, he said he received 10-15 offers right away, most from D1 schools. But he was only in the portal for 2-3 hours when he got the offer he wanted from Mercer and knowing he wanted to play closer to home in his last college season.
Poe thrived again at his guard position for the Bears, earning 2021 All-SoCon First Team honors.
After the season, Poe was still flying under the NFL radar. But he was getting some attention from teams, and he took part in the College Gridiron Showcase all-star game. It was at Georgia’s pro day when Poe’s name started to go national.
He ran a 4.89-second 40-yard dash (would have been No. 2 at the NFL Combine among OL), did 34 reps on the bench press (No. 1), recorded a 31.5-inch vertical (No. 5), and had a 9’3″ broad jump (No. 10).
“Before [the pro day] it was still good,” Poe said about his interest from NFL teams. “A lot of teams would tell me, ‘Hey man, we’re going to try to get you somewhere and I don’t want anybody to know about you.’ But when I went to the pro day, it just opened up more. I’m not as much of a secret good player anymore, I guess. I’m a good player everywhere. That’s where I’ve seen the biggest difference.”
Poe points out his past experiences have led him to this point. His physical play was helped by being an undersized offensive lineman in high school doing drills against bigger teammates. Poe said he remembers doing a circle drill versus the other linemen and being exhausted, but not taking any reps off.
Despite his unique route from JuCo to D2 to D1, that path has helped maintain his athleticism and versatility. And it keeps the hunger to keep wanting more.
“I would say I play with a mean streak,” Poe said. “I’m never going to stop hitting people. It’s either going to be me or you, and it’s not going to be me. … You have [physicality] or you don’t. In high school, that’s where you find your identity. It’s not in college or the NFL. You have to have it from the start. I wanted to be the hardest-hitting guy and the toughest guy.”
Poe has been busy since the pro day. He said he’s had official visits with teams but is keeping the specific details between him and his agent. Meanwhile, Poe is also getting his master’s degree in higher education.
In a couple of weeks, his football journey continues when Poe finds out what city and NFL franchise he’ll be heading to. This time, the question of offensive lineman or fullback is paying off.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s crazy,” Poe said. “But at the end of the day, it’s still a blessing. I just take it all in and soak it in. And just keep thanking God. At the end of the day, I just have to thank Him for everything … God gave me the tools, I’m just working with them.”