RENTON — That the New York Jets released their 2019 third-round draft pick, Jachai Polite, was one of the most surprising developments of the NFL’s cut-down day Saturday.
During his few months with the Jets, Polite racked up about $100,000 in fines because he was “repeatedly late for meetings,” The New York Daily News reported.
After his release, Polite went unclaimed on waivers. The Seahawks then signed him to their practice squad on Sunday.
Some analysts had projected Polite as a potential first-round pick in April’s draft.
“We studied him very carefully (through the draft process) and were surprised that he was available, so we jumped at the opportunity,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
As a junior at Florida last season, Polite led the Gators with 11 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss, and his eight forced fumbles were the most in major college football. He slipped to the third round after reportedly having poor interviews with teams at the NFL Scouting Combine.
He is listed at 6-feet-3 and 258 pounds on the Seahawks’ roster, and defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said the 21-year-old Polite has been given a fresh start in Seattle.
“The only thing I said to him — I said, ‘Listen, I understand all the media articles are out there about what transpired in New York,'” Hurtt said. “And I said, ‘You have a clean slate here with me. … Don’t do anything that’s going to make me conjure up and recall the things I heard. You’ve got a new start. Let’s move forward. We don’t deal with any of that foolishness here. If you’re not going to be the consummate pro and be where you’re supposed to be on time, if you don’t give me your undivided attention and work, you won’t be here long.’
“He was pretty good with that. He said, ‘Coach, I appreciate it. I’m trying to be better.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to help you. If you want to do it, I’ll help you get it done.’”
Hurtt evaluated Polite during the draft process and saw a prospect with “good anticipation of the snap count, excellent hand-eye coordination (and a) unique ability to bend and turn the edge.” Polite has been “good so far” through his first two practices in Seattle, Hurtt added.
“He’s not the first and he ain’t going to be the last kid to make some mistakes early in his career,” Hurtt said. “But he’ll continue to come along and he’ll have patience.”