Florida’s Jachai Polite was in Cincinnati late this week for a top-30 visit, per his instagram.
Polite also appeared inside Paul Brown Stadium per Allen’s instagram story.
Every year there is a highly touted prospect that has a fall from grace in the draft process. When Polite decided to forgo his senior year and declared for the NFL Draft in on New Year’s Eve, there was little debate about where he eventually get drafted. All the way leading up to the NFL combine, the first round seemed to be a lock for Polite, and then the everything changed following his week in Indianapolis.
Measuring in at 6’3” and 254 pounds, Polite underwhelmed evaluators with a sluggish 4.84 40-yard dash and a mere 32” vertical jump, neither seemed indicative of his dominating tape at Florida. He sat out of all other drills.
Before he even tested on the field, reports claimed that Polite turned off numerous teams when interviewing. He even stated that the Los Angeles Rams were the only team that “didn’t bash” him in the interview process.
A bad week at the combine could’ve been easily forgotten had he blew everybody away a few weeks later at Florida’s pro day. Unfortunately, a 5.04 40 time only raised more red flags for Polite, who apparently was dealing with a bad hamstring during the combine and later re-aggravated it at his pro day.
It’s safe to say that no team should be willing to spend a first-round pick on Polite, which would be wild to say just a few months ago. There’s simply too much risk to invest that high of a draft pick on a player who’s athletic testing doesn’t indicate long-term success, along with potential personal issues on top of that.
But, the tape with Polite hasn’t changed, and his production against SEC competition is going to make a team take a chance on him soon after the conclusion of the first round. Whether that be sometime in the second or third rounds, or early in the fourth round, Polite will get a chance to make the last two months irrelevant.
The Bengals represent an ideal team for him to make his mark on the NFL. With their triumvirate of edge rushers in Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard, Polite wouldn’t be asked to play a multitude of snaps and would be limited to do what he does best: get after the quarterback. Rounds 2-4 seem to be the sweet spot for Cincinnati to address the position, so the range fits as well.
And don’t forget, Dunlap was also a Florida prospect that some teams were skeptical about regarding his off-field evaluation. Dunlap ended up with the Bengals in the second round in 2010 and neither side has looked back since. Dunlap and Polite’s situations are not congruent, but the slight similarities provide some form of precedent for the match.