2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: EDGE/DL Jachai Polite

Though the 2018 NFL season has not yet reached its halfway point, it is never too early to look at what is coming ahead. In the first installation of this series, we take a look at a player who was recently added to this year’s Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List.

Player Description:

Name: Jachai Polite

Position: Edge/Defensive line

College: Florida

Class: Junior

Height: 6’2

Weight: 242 lbs

 

Overview:

The Florida Gators is currently experiencing a resurgence in their program, one that is long overdue.  At the heart of this resurgence has been the play of junior edge rusher Jachai Polite.  In the last two games alone, Polite has accounted for 9 total tackles and 4 sacks. He has been, to say the least, a terror to opposing quarterbacks.

As a freshman, Polite played in nine games and recorded 11 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. His promising sophomore year was cut short due to a season-ending against Georgia. Even though he played in just seven games, he doubled his total tackles with 22, with 5.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. His most notable game came in week one against Michigan where he recorded 6 total tackles and a sack.

As of week six, Polite has surpassed his career totals in sacks, total tackles, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles. His performances as of late have placed him in the same breath of the elite edge rushers in college football, such as Montez Sweat or Zach Allen. What makes Polite scary is that he seems to get better and better with each passing game, as he continues to make life difficult for offensive coordinators focused on neutralizing him.

 

Array Of Skills

Where do I begin? If I could pick one game that best displays his array of skills, it would be his performance against LSU. When reviewing that game, it was clear the Tigers offensive line had little to no answers on how to stop him, as was often in the creating problems in the backfield. His stat line from that game read as follows: 6 total tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defense. Yet it is not his numbers that were impressive, rather the way he got them. Take for instance this play late in the fourth quarter of that game;

There are so many good things about this sequence. Firstly, the way used the move inside to set up his spin; the spin in itself is great. Secondly, the closing speed and lastly the presence of mind to deflect the pass instead of going for the sack. In just one sequence, Polite displayed many of the attributes a team looks for when scouting a pass rusher.

 

Flexibility (Bend)

To me, one of the most underappreciated attributes in a pass rusher is the ability to bend the edge; to be specific, bending the edge effectively. Why I noted this, many edge rushers can bend, few can do it in a manner where they can continue moving towards the quarterback without being pushed off the arc. It would be unfair to measure Polite’s ability to bend next to someone with natural hip flexibility like Tennessee Titans edge rusher Harold Landry III, Polite’s bend though is effective enough to get the job done.

It is not the nicest bend, but he is able to establish the right base and maintain a constant speed throughout. Yet what is worth paying attention is his explosion off the ball, it is elite-level in my opinion. From the games I have viewed, when he gets off the ball, it is hard to neutralize him.

Forcing Fumbles

To me, this represents the defining aspect of Polite as an edge rusher. Whether is it unplanned or deliberate, he has become adept to forcing fumbles. With his combination of speed and strength, when he makes contact with a quarterback, things like this happen;

Now, in this case, the Tennessee quarterback was in mid-throwing motion, yet one must not disregard the timing and the impact of the hit to create the turnover. It is one thing if this type of occurrence was taking place one in a while, in Polite’s case, he has recorded 4 forced fumbles; almost one in each game he has played, so his ability to force fumbles is not a fluke.

After the first two games of the season, I had Polite to be a mid-second to early third-round selection. Yet after these last few weeks, I would not be surprised if he’s risen into late-first, early second-round territory. The season is still long ways from being over, but I have seen enough to know when someone is built to make an impact at their position at the next level, Polite is that guy.

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