Defensive line is considered possibly the deepest area in this year’s draft. As we inch closer to the draft, however, the cream is separating from the rest. Now it’s looking more and more like finding a surefire pass rusher late in the first round could prove unlikely.
One pass rusher who has been considered a possibility late in the first round is Florida’s Jachai Polite. That may not be the case anymore as NFL.com draft analyist Lance Zierlein detailed following a poor pro day showing by Polite.
Jachai Polite's 5.04 official 40 at pro day with slow 3-cone, poor broad jump and low bench press or going to likely drop him even more. Rare to get slower at the Pro Day than combine.— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 29, 2019
High risk bust. The numbers I have in front of me .... you really can't find "steals" with these numbers in NFL history at that position. They simply don't test that slow, unexplosive and unstrong. Unless there is something causing these numbers... not likely to be a "steal" https://t.co/5ezf4guNor— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 29, 2019
Draft guru Dane Brugler chimed in as well to express similar sentiment about Polite’s pro day numbers.
and 14 bench reps are the NFL average for a WR. https://t.co/nv8vhJmPN3— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 29, 2019
At one time, Polite and Florida State’s Brian Burns were both considered low first round edge rushers. But in the offseason process, Burns has climbed his way up draft boards and now looks like a mid-first round pick, while Polite has gone the opposite direction.
I just know this.... Brian Burns busted his tail to get ready in the process. Didn't pass on drills. Ran, jumped and worked out all at a new, heavier weight. Proved it wasn't a fake weight that would slow him down. Burns made it happen and answered the bell and the questions. https://t.co/i2eWdZlOTA— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 29, 2019
Many will say to just watch the tape. That measurements shouldn’t matter. But they do. As Zierlein alludes to here, prospects show their character and work ethic as much as anything in the draft process. Are you drafting a prospect who slacked off in the draft process and is trying to cruise on his most recent college tape? Or are you drafting a prospect who wants it and puts in the work to prove it?
Polite’s tape shows a player who exploded as a junior, putting up 11.0 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss after just 4.0 sacks and 9.0 tackles for loss in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined.
Draft prospect analysis is an inexact science. And who knows, Polite may prove his pro day performance was meaningless with regard to the career he will have. But it’s not meaningless when NFL teams are considering whether to take a chance on you with one of their coveted picks.
For that reason it’s looking more and more like if the Raiders want to ensure they get a top flight pass rusher in this draft, they will have to either get one with their pick at 4th overall, or use their picks at 24 and 27 to move into the top half of the first round.