Get to know the New York Jets’ third-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft, Florida edge defender Jachai Polite.
Heading into this year’s draft, few needs were bigger for the Jets than finding an explosive pass rusher who could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks off the edge. It’s been far too long since the Jets have had that kind of fearsome presence on the outside, and their entire pass defense has suffered the consequences.
Enter one of the best playmaking pass rushers in all of college football.
An explosive rusher with fantastic balance to bend the corner and get to the quarterback, Polite was best known for creating turnovers after getting around the pocket. He led the nation with five forced fumbles, a testament to his ability to target the ball, not just the quarterback, once in the backfield.
So, how did Polite still end up on the board in the third round? If he’s such a talented and productive pass rusher, why wasn’t he drafted earlier?
Few players, if any, had a worse predraft process than Polite. He struggled through on-field workouts, both at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine and the Gators’ pro day. A possible hamstring injury could have contributed, but his numbers were just plain awful. His press conference at the combine didn’t go much better, and many reports indicated his private interviews with NFL teams were along the same lines.
Even so, Polite’s college film show a dynamic player with a knack for making big plays in the backfield. Especially after losing out on Anthony Barr in free agency, the Jets desperately need that kind of player to complete their young, promising defense.
Don’t be surprised if Polite ends up proving himself to be one of the best bargains in this year’s entire draft class.