Edge rusher Jachai Polite made headlines during the NFL Combine and not for positive reasons.
The nature of the Florida baseball team’s opponents and outcomes through 18 games have made …
He measured in at 258 pounds, 16 pounds heavier than listed on the 2018 Florida roster.
He ran a rather slow 4.84-second 40 yard dash (17th among EDGE prospects) and claimed he had a lingering hamstring injury. He pulled out of the remaining combine events.
Polite said his interview with the Rams was his best because they “didn’t bash” him.
“Everyone else picking at my game,” he said.
Setting all of that aside, the 20-year-old should’ve stayed for his senior season because of the depth of pass rushers in this draft.
Three EDGE players will go in the top 10: Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat. Other first-round locks include Florida State’s Brian Burns, Michigan’s Rashan Gary and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell.
All of these players have more prototypical size for NFL edge rushers than Polite. He’s dropped to a late first-round or second-round pick in many mock drafts. With his questionable combine performance, some draft analysts have Polite slipping out of the second round.
That’s a potential loss of tens of millions of dollars.
You can’t blame Polite for leaving. He’s one of the quickest edge-rushing prospects and a great hustle player. These attributes are clear on film from his fantastic 2018 season. But he could’ve waited another year to develop his body, study film (he said he doesn’t watch much film on himself) and fine-tune his game.
Mullen said Sweat improved significantly as a senior last season.
“A year and a half ago, me and Todd (Grantham) sat down (with Sweat) and said 'it’s probably your best interest, you really should stay one more year,'” Mullen said. “He went from a guy that was a mid-round draft pick... to a guy that they are talking to be one of the top picks in the draft.”
Polite would have avoided one of the deepest pass-rusher drafts in recent memory. A rough combine would matter less if his value among pass rushers was higher.
Gators defensive end Jabari Zuniga decided to stay. He’s a couple inches taller and naturally a little bulkier than Polite.
Zuniga could’ve surged into this draft’s first round with an impressive combine and pro day, but he elected to try next season after another year of development.
Mullen praised Zuniga’s decision to stay and said he took in a lot information and listened to a lot of good advice.
“Well, (Lamical Perine and Zuniga) could have left,” Mullen said. “As you’re seeing right now with some guys, it’s not as cut and dry as they think it is.”
Mark Stine is assistant sports editor of the Alligator. You can follow him on Twitter @mstinejr or contact him at [email protected].