2019-05-11 14:53:451 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: New York Jets third-round pick Jachai Polite forces fumbles against Tennessee. (Image Source: Donald Page/Getty Images)
The New York Jets had six picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, including two third-round selections. As we take the Jets “Off the Clock,” we’ll breakdown all six of their draft picks, continuing with the first of their two third-round choices:
Round 3; Pick 4 (68th Overall): OLB Jachai Polite, Florida
Measurables: At 6’3” and 258 pounds with an 80 ¼” wingspan, Polite has more than enough size to handle duties at outside linebacker for the Jets. His 4.84 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine was rather mediocre for an edge rusher and his 32” vertical jump was poor. He definitely didn’t help himself in Indianapolis but was also dealing with a hamstring injury, so maybe we shouldn’t put too much stock into those numbers.
Skill Set: On the field, Polite looked like a quick and athletic edge rusher with the Gators. The Florida man has all the tools needed to get to the quarterback: a quick initial step, explosiveness, lateral agility, and the closing speed to finish the job once he has a passer in his sights. A big play waiting to happen, Polite had 11 sacks among 19.5 tackles for loss with six forced fumbles, and four passes defensed. He was among college football’s most disruptive edge defenders as a junior. Consistency was an issue and at times he was overwhelmed as a run defender.
Value: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder with Polite’s value. Some will point towards the early portion of the draft process when he was projected by many as a first-round pick, however his perceived value dropped throughout the draft process. Leading up to the draft he looked more like a late third-round choice.
Need: General manager Mike Maccagnan took big swings at adding an edge rusher through free agency and whiffed, so the Jets definitely filled a need with this selection. It’s been forever since they’ve had an edge rusher who struck fear in opposing quarterbacks. Remember John Abraham? Yes, it’s been that long. With 39 sacks the Jets were a middle of the pack defense, however just 12 came from their starting outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Brandon Copeland. An upgrade is needed.
Mogollon’s Pick: I would have been pounding the table for an edge rusher, just a different edge rusher…sorry Jets fans…Chase Winovich who was selected by the New England Patriots would have been my choice. He’s a top-notch pass rusher, who improved as a run defender during his time in Ann Arbor, and tested very well at the combine.
Who Did They Pass Up? Another Michigan man, cornerback David Long (No. 79) could have upgraded their defensive backfield. Staying in the Mitten State, so could have MSU’s Justin Layne (No. 83). While the front seven is much improved the secondary will be a weakness on defense. I would have also been ok had the Jets addressed the offensive line with Michael Deiter (No. 78), a guard who also could have competed for playing time at center.
The Fit: A rush end at Florida, Polite appears to have the athletic ability and burst to play outside linebacker in Gregg Williams’s 3-4 scheme. He was the type of pure pass rusher as a Gator that the Jets defense is so desperate for. While he’s unproven dropping back in coverage it’s a problem New York will be happy to deal with if Polite can get into the opposing backfield and bring the quarterback down. The hybrid defender could be a perfect fit playing in the aggressive style Williams employs, especially if the Jets mix up formations as I suspect they will.
2019 Outlook & Beyond: When the Jets missed out on landing a big-ticket edge rusher via free agency, they brought Braddon Copeland back on a one-year deal. He’s a place holder. Don’t be surprised to see Polite back up Copeland and Jordan Jenkins this season, with most of his playing time coming in obvious passing situations. He should be New York’s primary situational pass rusher, who projects as a potential starter as soon as next season. Maybe even sooner if he takes quickly to the defense.
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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