Friday, May 24, 2019

Polite hoping to overcome his 10 million dollar mistake

This topic contains 12 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Defense5599 May. 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm.

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  • #1186589

    The Anti-Java
    Participant

    Jets rookie Jachai Polite attempts to rebound from $10 million slide

    10:27 PM PT
    Rich Cimini
    ESPN Staff

    FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — When Jachai Polite announced he was leaving the University of Florida for the NFL, he did so with a letter to “Gator Nation” on Twitter. In addition to the obligatory thank-yous to school, team and family, he vowed, “I can’t wait to prove to NFL teams that I can be and will be the best defensive lineman in the NFL.”

    The tweet was time-stamped Dec. 31, 2018, 2:42 p.m. If that was Polite’s New Year’s resolution, he failed.

    In a span of four months, Polite went from a potential first-round NFL draft pick to the third round, 68th overall, where the New York Jets — desperate for an edge rusher — decided his September-to-December performance was strong enough to reconcile what occurred from January to April. By his own admission, he flunked the pre-draft process, costing himself millions. Specifically, the fall cost him at least $10 million in guaranteed money, based on the pre-scouting combine belief by many talent evaluators that he would have been picked in the bottom third of the first round.

    “It just opened my eyes to the real world,” Polite said. “[It was] just a humbling experience.”

    Every year there are a few prospects like Polite, highly productive college players whose NFL stock takes a Dow Jones-like plunge. The Jets drafted a player like that in 2013, quarterback Geno Smith, a projected top-five pick who tumbled into the second round because of questions about his attitude. It happens. The almighty draft machine has the power to do irreparable harm to a player’s reputation if he shows up out of shape or turns diva in a meeting with team officials. It’s up to prospective employers to separate fact from fiction, and determine how much fact they’re willing to put up with.

    In Polite, the Jets have one of the most productive pass-rushers in college football, a quick-twitch athlete who recorded 11 sacks last season in the ultracompetitive SEC. His backstory is heartwarming: His now-famous Twitter handle, @retiremoms, is a tribute to his mother, Katrina Simmons, who works two jobs to support her family — housekeeping supervisor at a hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, and in-home hair stylist. She’s been crying “tears of joy” since her son was drafted, according to Polite, whose goal is to make enough money to give her an early retirement.

    But there’s another side to this story.

    Polite bombed the combine, showing up at 258 pounds (more than 20 above his playing weight), running a slow 40-yard dash (4.84 seconds), skipping the rest of the drills because of a hamstring injury and telling the media that certain teams “bashed” him in private interviews. (Memo to future draft prospects: Many teams will dissect your game to see how you react to criticism.) Polite was smiling when he made his comments, according to eyewitnesses, but he was portrayed as a whiner. At his pro day, the bad mojo continued, as he injured his other hamstring and failed to break 5.0 seconds in the 40-yard dash (5.04 by the Jets’ time).

    When NFL types started digging into his background, they discovered concerning signs. Two scouts, representing two different teams, said they came away with questions about his work ethic, commitment and attention to detail. One scout described him as “bad news … arrogant … not a team player.” The other called him “a talented pass-rusher. He lived off that, but he fell for a reason — off-the-field stuff. He should’ve gone higher.” No arrests, they say, just a troubling pattern of behavior.

    “Just immature stuff,” Polite admitted, not going into detail.

    Polite is an enigma, which makes him such a fascinating draft pick. Maybe his dramatic fall will be a blessing for the Jets, making this a third-round heist that solves a perennial problem on defense. Players can change. In 2000, they took a third-round gamble on wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who was kicked off the Florida State team. He became a terrific pro. Or maybe it will go the other way. Maybe Polite’s awful pre-draft stretch was a harbinger, not an aberration.

    Will the Jets be stealers or suckers? They readily acknowledge the risk, but they’re hoping Polite matures in the structured environment they can provide.

    “I don’t think a lot of us had it figured out at 21,” coach Adam Gase said. “I’m pretty sure you guys have a long list of mess-ups in your life. I spent a lot of time with him when he came on his visit. We had a good discussion. I know our coaching staff spent a lot of time with him. The personnel guys spent a lot of time with him. I like the way our players are ready to help him out, and help all our young guys out, making sure they’re all doing the right things, keeping guys on track.”

    Polite will see familiar faces in the locker room, namely former Florida teammate Marcus Maye. He also shares a link with Leonard Williams, who graduated from the same high school: Mainland High in Daytona. The Jets have older leaders on defense, players such as Steve McLendon, Avery Williamson and C.J. Mosley, who can indoctrinate Polite into the NFL culture.

    “Being here with the Jets, they took a chance on me,” Polite said. “Even throughout the draft process, I just know here I have great people around me. I’m surrounded by great people, so I have no choice but to change and be great.”

    For him to reach that level, he probably will do it as a pass-rusher. That’s his calling card. As a 235-pound defensive end for the Gators, Polite recorded 17.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and a nation-leading six forced fumbles in only 529 defensive snaps in 2018. He displayed fast feet, loose hips and a nonstop motor. On a screen pass against Tennessee, he made a tackle almost 40 yards downfield — and the video of the play went viral.

    Florida coach Dan Mullen has said Polite reminds him of former Indianapolis Colts great Dwight Freeney, who was a Syracuse freshman when Mullen was a graduate assistant at the school. Like Freeney, who finished his NFL career with 125.5 sacks, Polite has incorporated a spin move into his repertoire.

    “I like the spin move a lot,” said Polite, who expects to play outside linebacker at 245 pounds. “It’s not like his [Freeney’s] yet, but it’s going to get there. It’s going to get there.”

    Polite didn’t do much spinning in his first two seasons at Florida. He arrived on campus as a 270-pound interior lineman before dropping weight and converting to an edge player. Weight fluctuation has slowed his development. Before the combine, he decided to add weight with the hope of improving his stock — or so he says. It backfired. Those close to him say he gained too much too fast, resulting in a slight hamstring tear before the combine. He overcompensated during rehab, injuring the good hamstring.

    That, of course, doesn’t explain his poor combine interviews or the character concerns from college. Teams treat pass-rushers like precious metal, and yet no one was willing to draft him in the first two rounds. The slide cost him life-changing money. Polite received a $1.1 million signing bonus; if he had gone, say, 25th overall, the guarantee would have been close to $12 million.

    Maybe the Jets got a bargain. They’re not gloating, but they’re intrigued.

    “There are a lot of guys that say they’re really good pass-rushers, but until you see it in the NFL, going against an elite player and winning one-on-ones consistently, you really can’t say that guy is an elite pass-rusher,” Gase said. “To see the skill set this guy has, and to see how he can grow and develop, to me, he’ll be a fun guy to watch over time.”

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    #1186598

    GameTime
    Participant

    Would have liked to get him, but oh well.  We got noah, primed for a huge year.

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    #1186660

    Biggs3535
    Participant

    When NFL types started digging into his background, they discovered concerning signs. Two scouts, representing two different teams, said they came away with questions about his work ethic, commitment and attention to detail. One scout described him as “bad news … arrogant … not a team player.” The other called him “a talented pass-rusher. He lived off that, but he fell for a reason — off-the-field stuff. He should’ve gone higher.” No arrests, they say, just a troubling pattern of behavior.

    Yup, this has followed him for a while now. We shall see if he can nip it and start to care about his craft.

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    #1186832

    tog
    Participant

    And you see how that can go with someone like Bowers.

    We can look back in 4 years and say “What a great value!” but he roughly went where he should. There’s no formula or intuition that will definitely tell you whether Polite will grow up and become a different person.

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    #1186834

    GameTime
    Participant

    Bowers had some significant medical issues, right?  Polite does have question marks, but at least he has good knees.

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    #1186836

    tog
    Participant

    Bowers had some significant medical issues, right? Polite does have question marks, but at least he has good knees.

    My understanding (and I absolutely could be wrong) was that Bowers issues wasn’t his knees but his heads. That is, perhaps his knees would’ve been an issue if he’d played for a few years but that they didn’t play a role in his horrible play. He lacked the attitude and work ethic.

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    #1186837

    GameTime
    Participant

    I agree that was also a problem. I remember he didn’t “love” football.  I dont think that’s quite the issue with polite.  But I do wonder if he doesnt “love” the stuff that turns a good player into an elite one.

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    #1186846

    tog
    Participant

    I agree that was also a problem. I remember he didn’t “love” football. I dont think that’s quite the issue with polite. But I do wonder if he doesnt “love” the stuff that turns a good player into an elite one.

    There are a lot of professional players that don’t love football. Like in all pro sports, when you’re a big, strong, fast guy you’re most lucrative career is professional sports. But a lot of guys aren’t passionate about the sport.

    You don’t hear about it a lot (because no one publicises it) but those guys treat it like a profession like any other job. In many respects it may not matter a lot whether you love football – but if its your livelihood you put the work in to succeed. It doesn’t matter whether you love being in the gym or practising or watching film – what matters is that you do it.

    That’s why the similarity I see between Polite and Bowers isn’t the love of football (which I don’t think matters) but the inability or unwillingness to be and act like a professional.

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    #1186851

    Nobody
    Participant

    I never saw a lack of love for football on tape nor did I see any sort of regime of a low motor or down-throttling (and there were plenty of prospects that I did, and noted that).

    I would have to have a nice sample size if personal experience with him to say with any certainty what his issues are, but some things point more toward a young man who is very immature mentally for his age and likely a bit on the dense side. I don’t mean immature in a destructive/toxic type of way (see Muxon, Joe). I mean literally that he seems to sport the immature mental framework of an aloof 16 year old that hasn’t been refined by age.

    I mean…consider…

    He added about 20 lbs for the Combine…of BAD (he probably just ate a lot of food, drank protein shakes and flung weights around) weight…INTENTIONALLY…

    Thinking that this would ingratiate him to scouts?

    This was a thoughtful moment of intent for him. This is his deliberation process.

    That screams of young, dense aloofness without a good support system…because that is just crazy.

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    #1186852

    Pennywise
    Participant

    Bowers had mcl and pcl injury at Clemson

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    #1186909

    Schianoismyhero
    Participant

    We had a shot at Polite but he was taken, what was it, two spots before us? Then we traded back for a “meaningless” Rams comp pick…

    Could have been a great recovery from missing out on Cody Ford by one spot…

    Imagine Josh Allen, Cody Ford, and then Polite. Dang, that’s a slam dunk.

    Who knows tho…

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    #1186965

    GoldsonAges
    Participant

    He’s got an uphill climb to success. At his ideal play weight of 240 or so his ceiling is situational pass rusher.

    He could be a good situational rusher, but even if he showed up at the combine at 240 and performed well, he still has the exact same ceiling. Was probably never a serious 1st round prospect IMO.

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    GottaJaboo wrote:
    (Justin) Evans will be far superior to (Budda) Baker in the pros.

    Dan Skipper Sucks! (lost bet)
    Update - UDFA Dan Skipper has been signed by the Dallas Cowboys

    #1187070

    Defense5599
    Participant

    We had a shot at Polite but he was taken, what was it, two spots before us? Then we traded back for a “meaningless” Rams comp pick…

    Could have been a great recovery from missing out on Cody Ford by one spot…

    Imagine Josh Allen, Cody Ford, and then Polite. Dang, that’s a slam dunk.

    Who knows tho…

    It was a slam dunk, but Licht’s fixation with the secondary is becoming unbearable.

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