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The curious case of Jachai Polite, and why the Cowboys would be wise to consider him at 58th overall

Jachai Polite is not a squeaky clean prospect, but he wouldn’t be there at 58 if he was.

NCAA Football: Idaho at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There are always a handful of cases every year where an NFL combine performance destroy’s an NFL draft prospect’s stock. Last year, we saw Orlando Brown’s stock plummet due to poor testing, and this year it looks like our unlucky candidate is Florida EDGE rusher Jachai Polite. While being unlucky for the player, it could end up being a blessing in disguise for the Dallas Cowboys who are in desperate need of high-end defensive end talent on their roster.

Entering the combine, there were a lot of questions regarding Jachai Polite’s size. Polite silenced the doubters by measuring in at 6’3” and weighing 258-lbs. Perfect, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the added weight that Polite had put on was not “good weight”. Multiple reports came out that Polite looked sloppy, out of shape, and almost overweight for a guy that looked small on tape, but played with good athleticism, burst, and speed. The reports of Polite looking out of shape were then backed up by a disastrous combine performance. Polite ran his first 40 yard dash attempt at 4.84 seconds, which ranked second worst out of all the EDGE defenders at the combine. After running his first 40, it was reported that Polite suffered a hamstring injury and had left the combine. While that’s bad enough in itself, there are many people who think that Polite faked the injury to cover up for the poor testing numbers. This all came after many were very disappointed in the way he handled the interview portion of the combine, reportedly bashing teams for questioning his character and play on the field. While the combine could not have gone much worse for Jachai Polite, this may give the Cowboys a shot at a guy they had no business having a shot at before he arrived at the combine.

Before the combine, Polite was looked at as a sure-fire first-round pick that had a good shot of going in the top 15. Polite has top five tape in this class of edge rushers, and was graded out on my board as a top 10 player before his bad week in Indianapolis. So why would the Cowboys think about drafting a player with so many issues? Because in order to land a top 10 player at 58th overall, some things are going to have to go wrong. According to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, Polite is falling hard, and may not be drafted until the third round:

• Another SEC player tumbling down boards is Florida edge-rusher Jachai Polite, who struggled in interviews at the combine. Said one area scout who covers the Southeast: “[Polite] might not even go in the second round. It’s bad, man.”

If the Cowboys are willing to take a risk on a player, Polite is exactly the player they should do so on. Dallas has been willing to take risks on players with off-the-field issues in the past, and while some have failed some have worked out well for them. Say what you want about Polite’s personality, athletic ability, and work ethic, but one thing you cannot question is the former Florida Gators ability to rush the quarterback at an extremely high rate. On the field, Polite plays with a great first step (even with a consistent false step), an impressive amount of power, and the ability to finish at the quarterback.

Polite broke out in his junior year recording 11 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, and 45 total tackles. He showed the ability to win with initial speed, the ability to dip/bend to avoid offensive tackles hands, and used his length to bring the quarterback down and/or find the football when bearing down on the QB. He flashed a very nice spin move to get home as a counter, and flashed good hand technique as rusher, but relied on his speed-dip to get home on most occasions.

While there are plenty of questions needing answers for Jachai Polite, the one question we do know the answer to is that he can rush the passer better than almost anyone in the 2019 NFL draft class. For that reason only, the Cowboys need to do a lot of homework on the edge rusher. He can, without a doubt, make a positive impact on the football field if he’s all-in mentally, and with the issues surrounding Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford, and the DeMarcus Lawrence contract, the need for premier talent at the position is as high as ever.