As the 2109 NFL Draft approaches, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a few defensive needs that must be addressed. One is an edge rusher. T.J. Watt is becoming a star, and Bud Dupree had his best season in 2018, but the Steelers need another reliable body to bring the heat. There are certainly some options available through free agency, but the best potential candidate might be in the upcoming draft. Jachai Polite, the best pure pass rusher in the draft, is a Steelers type of linebacker. He’s physical, nast, and lives to sack quarterbacks.
How Jachai Polite Fits in the Steelers Defense
The Steelers have a tradition of nasty, physical outside linebackers who lived to terrorize quarterbacks. Greg Lloyd got in a quarterback’s head so deeply at times, they made mistakes despite a lack of pressure. Polite is cut in the mold of Lloyd. He’s extremely quick off the snap, closes quickly on his target, and is a punishing tackler. He’s the kind of player who could provide the Steelers with the splash plays the defense has been missing. Most importantly, Polite has sacrificed the things he wants for the team, and to take care of those he loves, such as his mother.
Jachai Polite Bio
- 6’2″/240 LBS
- 78 career tackles including 28.5 tackles for loss
- 15 sacks, six of which were strip sacks
- 2018 Chuck Bednarik award semi-finalist
- 2018 Second-Team All-American
Polite is extremely quick off the snap and gets to the quarterback in a hurry. He gets to the tackle with top-shelf strength and the ability to go through or around them. Polite shows a natural ability to set them up for his plan of attack on initial contact. In run defense, Polite uses his hands well to shed blocks and sift through traffic. When he gets to the ball carrier, it’s with suddenness and power, and rarely misses what he targets. Polite has great lateral movement and changes direction quickly. Most importantly, Polite rarely makes the same mistake twice.
Polite’s recognition skills are questionable at times, making him late to the ball carrier. At times he’ll get off the details in run defense, compromising his gap. Polite has also missed out on a few sacks by taking to wide of an arc, allowing the quarterback to step up in the pocket and escape. When he is rushing from a two-point stance, his get-off is slightly delayed from a false step. Polite has also had difficulty at times setting the edge due to being a bit undersized for a defensive end.
The Bottom Line
Jachai Polite is the best pure pass rusher in the draft. He would be hard for the Steelers to pass on if available at the 20th spot. He is aggressive, physical, nasty, and has a nose for the ball. In short, Polite is the type of player the Steelers have been lacking for a few years now. His six strip sacks are the type of plays the Steelers defense is looking for. Many of the shortcomings attributed to Polite are based on him playing as a defensive end. As an outside linebacker, many of them can be coached out of his game.