Rumors abounded the first two nights of the NFL Draft about Jets trades. But general manager Mike Maccagnan said despite talking with “some teams” for the third pick overall, “there was never an offer we felt good enough about” and they were happy to take Quinnen Williams. At the start of action tonight, the Jets were reported to be trying to trade up into the top half of Round 2 but none of these reports panned out.
So the Jets remained with no second-round pick (that having been spent by the Colts on CB Rock Ya-Sin to close the books on last year’s tradeup to draft QB Sam Darnold) and sat tight for much of tonight with their two third-round picks.
Finally, the draft came to the Jets, and with their own pick in Round 3 (68th overall), they selected Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite, making it two SEC defensive players in their first two choices after the Green & White grabbed Alabama DL Williams in Round 1.
Polite (6’3″, 258) led the NCAA in 2018 with six forced fumbles. Despite starting just five of 13 games last year, he had career highs and team-leading totals of 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss and was named AP All-America second team. For his three-year career with the Gators he totaled 15 sacks, 28.5 TFLs and eight forced fumbles. He was one of two FBS players last year with 10-plus sacks and five-plus FFs, the other being first-round Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen.
Polite becomes the fourth Gator on the Jets’ current roster, along with S Marcus Maye, C Jonotthan Harrison and CB Brian Poole.
He is also the 10th player drafted by the Jets out of Florida all-time and the third-highest, following DB Steve Tannen (first round, 20th overall, 1970) and Maye (second round, 39th overall, 2017).
Polite also joins DL Leonard Williams as fellow graduates of Mainland HS in Daytona Beach, FL.
The Jets have one more pick in the third round (93rd overall), acquired from New Orleans in last August’s trade of QB Teddy Bridgewater.
The NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday from Nashville, Tenn., and at least a couple Florida Gators have dreams of hearing their names called on opening night.
One of them, rush end Jachai Polite, is hopeful he still ends up there after a bit of a rollercoaster ride in the pre-draft process.
“In my head I feel like I’m still there,” Polite said back at his Pro Day in March. “Where they pick me, I don’t know. But I believe in myself, first and foremost. Whoever gets me, whoever’s taking a chance from my terrible interviews and Combine, they’re going to get a great player. That’s all I know.”Polite’s stock took a serious hit first in Indianapolis at the Combine. He ran a poor 40-yard dash, clocking a 4.84 and then pulling up with a hamstring injury.
While that hamstring injury has certainly bothered him throughout the lead-up to the NFL Draft — he turned in a 5.04 40-yard dash at his Pro Day — it was a series of interviews both with teams and the media at the Combine that might have hurt more.
Essentially, Polite came across as a bit unprepared.
However, he took a lot of responsibility for that at his Pro Day. He was hopeful that his individual sitdowns with teams leading up to the draft would help change the narrative on who he is as a person.”I’m sure I’m not the only guy that didn’t come up like going through interviews throughout their life,” Polite said. “Especially like NFL interviews, when they’re about to invest a lot of money in you to play for their business. So they’ve got to get to know you, got to know. They have to know the real you. I’m just ready to show them and just let my story be stepping stones for another guy that comes (in the future).”
In terms of what he can provide on the field when healthy, Polite is most likely going to end up primarily as a pass-rush specialist. He wasn’t always terrific at setting the edge in college, and his size could make doing that in the NFL even more difficult.
Polite attempted to combat those concerns by adding weight prior to the Combine, and he admits that may have hurt his testing numbers.
At his best, though, he boasts a terrific motor and a knack for harassing opposing quarterbacks. All it takes is one team banking on him being able to do that at the next level.
Polite’s just ready to get there.
“It’s been pretty tough, but it’s a major learning experience for me, something I’ve never been through in my life,” he said. “I just keep learning every day. Nobody in my family has been through anything like this, so I had nobody to help me, really, other than my agent. But I never knew how serious and how mentally tough you had to be for this moment. But I’ve learned from it and I’m doing better now.”