ATLANTA — Florida junior defensive end Jachai Polite has already received feedback from the NFL concerning his draft projection. He has a grade now, so he has a much better idea where he’ll be selected if he forgoes his senior season to enter the draft.
What he doesn’t have is a decision yet.
“Undecided still,” he said after Wednesday’s Peach Bowl practice. “I’m just trying to focus on winning this game right now. There’s a lot of other things going through my mind, but it’s just football right now.”
Polite said the biggest thing on his mind right now is getting ready for Saturday’s game against Michigan.
And, yes, he’s playing in the Peach Bowl. There was never any indecision about that over the past several weeks.
“I’m playing a regular game, like I did LSU, any game, regular playing time,” he said. “I don’t know why (people) would think that (I’d shut it down). I’m not that type of player. I’m a team guy, and I just want to be with my team for as long as I can.”
Polite said he’ll make his big career decision sometime after Saturday’s game. He has until Jan. 14 to declare for the draft. In the meantime, he has all the information he needs from the NFL to make the call.
“I heard (from the NFL), and I got my grade back and stuff,” he said. “But that was just because they made me submit it and stuff so that’s it.”
Polite will not reveal what grade he’s received from the NFL.
“Oh, I can’t discuss that,” he said. “Just don’t want to.”
Several draft analysts are projecting Polite as a first-round pick if he comes out. But those projections aren’t based on information coming directly from the NFL.
UF coach Dan Mullen has said if an underclassman is told by the NFL that he’s going to be a first-round draft pick, he should enter the draft. And if the projection is middle of the second round or higher, he should return for his senior season.
Polite said he’s been having discussions with Mullen and veteran defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, and that there’s still a chance he could return for his senior season.
“Yeah. Why not?” he said. “It’s the University of Florida. I mean, you can have a great education, have anything.
“I don’t know (when I’ll decide). I’ve been going through it with Mullen and Grantham. Like, going through different things to make sure my decision is right at the end of the day.
“They’ve just been telling me to stay focused on the game right now. You still have a deadline to declare, the 14th.”
During one of Polite’s discussions with Grantham, Grantham shared a story with Polite about Jarvis Jones, a former All-American defensive end that Grantham coached at Georgia.
After recording 13 sacks in his junior season, Jones was considering an early exit to the NFL, which projected he could go late in the first round but probably would end up being taken in the second.
“There’s value in coming back relative to where you stand or maybe where you can go,” Grantham said. “Jarvis Jones was coming out the same year as Von Miller. We kind of knew he might not be the first outside ‘backer taken, but he would have been a second-round pick.”
Jones decided to return for his senior season and had an even bigger year (14 sacks) and ended up getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
His decision to return resulted in big money.
“He went from a second-round pick to a middle-of-the-first-round pick,” Grantham said. “To give you an example, if you’re in the middle of the third round your guarantee number is probably around $800,000. Everybody thinks that’s a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of things it’s really not.
“If you’re a middle pick in the first round your guaranteed money is around $12 million. There’s value in working to come back.”
Grantham said Polite has the talent to become a first-round pick.
“I think he has the tools,” he said. “I think he has the tools to do that.”
Polite was asked if Grantham’s story about Jones has resonated with him on any level.
“No, it’s not off of anybody else,” Polite said. “It’s all off me, Jachai. Not Jarvis.”