Here’s our 2019 NFL Draft profile for Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite breaking down his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights, and New York Jets prediction.
Jachai Polite is one of the many talented edge rushers in this year’s 2019 NFL Draft and the New York Jets are one of a plethora of teams that could look to target him come late April.
The athletic edge rusher is considered by many to be among the very best at his position but he doesn’t come without his fair share of issues. A terrible last month has seen Polite’s draft stock plummet and, at the moment, there’s no telling where he will get drafted.
Still, Polite is a fantastic talent who could very well have a very successful NFL career. The Florida product received little playing time throughout his first two seasons in Gainesville dealing with limited opportunities and injuries. But when given the chance to shine in his junior season, he did just that.
Polite broke out in 2018 finishing the year with 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 13 games as a full-time starter eventually earning First-Team All-SEC honors. He declared for the 2019 NFL Draft following his junior season with his sights set on the NFL.
There may not be an edge rusher more “twitched up” in this draft class than Jachai Polite. Polite is an explosive athlete who has elite dip-and-bend ability to rush around the corner.
Watching his tape, it’s absolutely amazing how low he gets to the ground when he drops his shoulder and turns around the edge. His flexibility gives him perhaps the highest upside of any speed rusher in the 2019 draft class.
Another aspect of his game that stands out is his incredible first step. Polite may not be quite as fast as someone like Florida State’s Brian Burns, but it’s his elite first-step quickness that separates him from everyone else.
While the other parts of his game are still coming around, Polite remains a dominant edge rusher who doesn’t only win with pure speed around the edge. He uses a variety of pass rush moves including quick stutter-steps and rip techniques to beat his man.
Although Polite remains an excellent overall pass rusher, he isn’t as well-rounded of a prospect as others in this class. The Florida native’s run defense is still lacking and while his technique isn’t exactly an issue, what’s more concerning is his tendency to get bodied when setting the edge.
Polite’s build and frame are a concern as although he beefed up to nearly 260 pounds for the combine, he often played in the 240s and his slight general frame doesn’t help matters. As such, it’s hard to see Polite playing as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end in the NFL making him a much better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Perhaps most concerning has been reports of serious character concerns coming out of his appearance at the NFL Combine. Polite reportedly interviewed very poorly and gave off an impression to some scouts as being standoffish and uncoachable.
This isn’t just hearsay either as Polite’s draft stock has taken a big hit as a result and some analysts think he might fall out of the first round altogether. While it’s important to always reserve judgment on a player’s character, it certainly is worth noting the impression of him around the league.
NEW YORK JETS PREDICTION
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The New York Jets will undoubtedly be in the market for an edge rusher in the 2019 NFL Draft, but Polite might not be a great fit for them. Schematically, he makes a ton of sense as he would be a great fit in the Jets defense if they do, indeed, decide to stick with the 3-4 defense as was announced.
However, barring any major draft position movement, the Jets won’t exactly be in range to take him.
Even if they trade back to the mid-teens, it might be a bit of a reach to take Polite there so early especially with more well-rounded prospects with fewer red flags likely still available. That being said, if the Jets are able to acquire a late first-round pick or even a very early second-round pick, there’s a chance Polite could still be on the board.
If so, the Jets would have to strongly consider taking him, despite the reported character flaws. Otherwise, look for teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, or Philadelphia Eagles to potentially be landing spots in the back-half of the first round.