It happens inevitably every year at the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. There’s a player or two or several, that either don’t work out well, don’t interview well, and don’t come off as a great draft prospect. And, then suddenly, teams begin to question his draft stock?
Gators linebacker / Edge rusher Jachai Polite is the latest classic example of this. Polite has an outstanding resume coming out of the University of Florida a year early for this year’s draft.
However, to read and watch everything being said about Polite from this weekend about his interview process with the media, individual teams and lackluster workout in the drills, you would think Polite was now no longer a number one pick prospect but instead, now a mid-round selection.
Jachai Polite: Teams were "bashing me" during Combine interviews https://t.co/aVaua2rte6
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 4, 2019
PFT is relaying what Polite said to a couple of media members about the team’s interviewing him and “bashing him.” PFT furthers writes about his 4.84 40-yard dash this weekend a concern, too.
Look, if you are Polite or his representatives, you want the NFL teams to come away from conversations with you being at least impressed and not disappointed or questioning you. The same with turning them off with your so-so involvement in the drills in Indy.
However, that should not, at least for the smart organizations that consistently draft well and win games on Sundays in the fall/winter, matter much.
What should matter much is: what Polite did on the field in 2018 in the best conference in college football. That’s when the Daytona Beach native blossomed into one of the best defensive players in the SEC.
On a team with a new head coach, Dan Mullen, and new defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, Florida’s defense excelled. And Polite specifically, led them with 17.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and an NCAA leading 6 forced fumbles, too.
There is no combine interview or “shuttle run” or vertical leap test that takes away from having 28.5 tackles in the backfield against the best of the best in college football week in and week out like what Polite did on the gridiron.
Polite was tabbed first team All-SEC, which again, is very significant. And, also, was a second-team AP All-American.
That’s what teams should be most interested in.
You cannot simply just wipe those things away because the interview process didn’t go as well, as he or you wanted in Indianapolis.
The Gators will have a Pro Day coming up, where Polite will work out again in a much more conducive environment for he and his teammates. Individual teams that are interested in drafting him will not only be there, but can also schedule separate interviews and conversations with him to evaluate him later in March/April.
And look, there’s no guarantee that Polite is going to be an NFL star or make a huge impact. There are plenty of guys who are exceptional college players, but it doesn’t translate to the Pros.
All we F.F.I. are writing on a Monday morning in March is: don’t make the mistake of ignoring the guys tape and his play on the field against a great number of other NFL prospects in the SEC.
That’s a bigger mistake then anything Polite did or didn’t say or did and didn’t do in the Combine workout this weekend
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