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NFL Draft: Jets take Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite in third round

Polite, who plays outside linebacker, had 15 1/2 sacks, 78 tackles (26 1/2 for loss) and eight forced fumbles in 32 career games for the Gators.

Jachai Polite of the Florida Gators walks away

Jachai Polite of the Florida Gators walks away with a sack during the second half against Mississippi State on Sept. 29, 2018. Polite had 11 sacks last season. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Bachman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets got their edge rusher and added some depth on the offensive line Friday in the third round of the NFL Draft.

They selected Florida outside linebacker Jachai Polite with the No. 68 pick and traded up to get the 92nd pick before taking USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga, a former college teammate of Sam Darnold’s.  The Jets dealt picks 93 and 217 to the Vikings to move up.

The 6-2, 258-pound Polite had 11 sacks as a junior, 19 1⁄2 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles. But his draft stock dipped after what he called a “bumpy” predraft process.

Polite ran a 4.80 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and there were questions about his maturity after teams interviewed him. Polite didn’t help himself by saying that teams, specifically the Packers, were “bashing” him.

But he acknowledged that he mishandled the situation and called it “a great learning experience.”

“I learned how to take care of business,” he said. “I was kind of blinded before. Young, being immature. But I accepted all my flaws and I’ve been working on it this offseason.”

Polite believes he got “a bad rap” with some of the negative scouting reports, but he regrets what he said about the Packers.

“I regret saying anything of bashing me because they weren’t really bashing me,” Polite said. “They were just trying to interview a guy to come play for their team. They wanted to see how I was, how I react. It was all my fault. I’ll learn from it.”

The Jets hope he matured and can fill a major need at edge rusher. In the last three years, no Jet has had more than seven sacks.

Polite will have to prove that he deserves playing time on this improved defense, but he’s comfortable playing in a 3-4 scheme.

“I’m just ready to work and get coached,” he said. “I’m going to try to work and get some snaps.”

The Jets’ focus early in the draft was expected to be on the defensive side of the ball. They took Alabama nose tackle Quinnen Williams with the No. 3 pick Thursday. But they also needed to address the offensive line.

The 6-3, 308-pound Edoga eventually could replace either left tackle Kelvin Beachum or right tackle Brandon Shell. Both will be free agents after the 2019 season.

The Jets didn’t have a second-round pick. There were rumors that the Jets were trying to trade into the second round, but nothing materialized.

Barring a trade, the Jets will have two picks Saturday. They will select third in the fourth round (No. 105) and 24th in the sixth round (196). They still need to address the secondary.

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