Florida edge defender Jachai Polite has been the talk of the pre-draft process, but not for good reasons. He has done about everything he could’ve to completely obliterate his draft stock. Going from a potential first-round pick to maybe not being drafted.
With all of that being said, is he worth the risk? I broke down his film and looked deeper into his situation to find out the answer. Let’s start out with the tape first.
I’m not seeing nearly enough buzz on junior DE Jachai Polite (6’2 260) from Florida…
Elite pass rush tools/traits.. Handful of moves and impressive flexibility/burst to close.
I also love he had 4 tackles last season 20+yds downfield – straight hustling til the whistle!! pic.twitter.com/wE0S9JuAYS
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) September 26, 2018
Arguably the most explosive first step in the class on film. Gets around the edge in a hurry, giving his opponents little time to get to their set points. Also takes long strides that allow him to gain depth to the pocket. Arc speed is impressive. Could help his get off even more if he eliminates his false step from a two-point stance.
Motor is always hot. Plays extremely fast and physical. Displays non stop pursuit, especially when spying Quarterbacks and chasing down ball carriers. Work ethic concerns do not reflect how he plays on the field.
Possesses more than enough flexibility to consistently bend the edge at a high level. Hip flexion allows him to turn some tight corners, especially when winning with speed. His ability to dip his shoulder and minimize the surface area of his chest is impressive as well. Has a hard time remaining stabilized on the edge tack when having to stay in contact with his opponents’ outside hip. Was pushed around the arc a lot in these situations. Bend is best when he has a step on his opponents or when he can soften angles with his hands.
Jachai Polite is an elite QB hunter. pic.twitter.com/OOASWwCPNc
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 8, 2019
Relatively polished as a pass rusher. Excellent at attacking tackles according to their sets. Shows no hesitation to counter inside with spin moves or stutter steps if his opponent cheats to one direction. Ability to jab step at full speed is potent. Mindful of keeping his chest clean through body positioning and hand usage as well. But is basically neutralized when he allows his adversaries to get hands on him. Offers little as a power rusher. Will have to get stronger in order to improve in this part of his game. In terms of hand usage, versed with clubs, rips, chops, etc. but still room to get better.
Very good range/change of direction ability. Natural athleticism allows him to change directions with ease. Almost impossible to option against because of his range. Can also redirect his path at full speed, making it that much harder for opponents to evade him in the open field. Shown to be effective as a QB spy against mobile Quarterbacks as well.
Good football IQ for the most part. Understands basic blocking schemes and how to defend them. Squeezes down when he is unblocked and strives to maintain outside leverage when setting the edge. Occasionally over pursues his point of contain, giving ball carriers a wide open lane to run through. Also, would like to see him be quicker to identify run or pass.
Size and length aren’t ideal. Polite played in the low 240’s at Florida and is only 6’2. So he definitely gives up some size playing the edge. He did bulk up to 258 lbs for the combine, but all of the extra mass looked like bad weight, and his athletic testing suffered from it.
Lack of size is an issue when defending the run. Will get overwhelmed at times against stronger opponents. Can be somewhat of a liability at the point of attack because he doesn’t seem to have the anchor to hold his spot of contain. Yet, uses optimal hand placement to set the edge, and makes a consistent effort to maintain outside leverage. Also does an excellent job of crashing down on pulling lineman when teams leave him unblocked.
Absolutely bombed his athletic testing. Athleticism was supposed to be something Polite could hang his hat on based off of his film. However, he looked totally out of shape at the combine and his pro day. I didn’t see the official numbers that he put up at his pro day but I heard estimates, and they are downright abysmal. Polite will have to drop the bad weight and show teams the athleticism that he displays on tape.
Was poor in the interview. I asked him about something I saw on film. Stunned when he told me he's never watched film of himself. He looked bewildered. pic.twitter.com/bZLGvbJkdo
— Brett Yarris (@Brett_PFN_BX) March 3, 2019
Work ethic and maturity issues have reared their ugly heads throughout the pre-draft process. Not preparing for the combine, rubbing teams the wrong way in private interviews, and flat out admitting to the media that you don’t watch film are all no’s to the NFL. Polite did all of those things and now his draft stock has plummeted.
Jachai Polite has 1st round tape and the Bears have a need at edge rusher. However, there are just too many red flags to feel comfortable with taking Polite with one of the Bears’ earlier picks. Personally, I would take a flyer on him with a 7th round pick or at most a 5th but anything else is too rich for me.
Maybe Ryan Pace feels differently, but he has not been known for taking chances on players with character issues. It will be interesting to see if Polite could be an exception.
Follow Thomas on Twitter @tomkavanaugh44