49ers Prospect Watch: Defensive studs on show in Florida-Georgia

Oct 27, 2018 at 11:02 AM


Those in the San Francisco 49ers front office should be keeping a close eye on another pivotal SEC showdown on Saturday when Georgia hosts Florida.

The contest will have significant implications on the race for the College Football Playoff but for those seeking to find prospects they believe will improve the 49ers in 2019 their focus will likely be fixed on two defensive studs.

Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker and Florida pass rusher Jachai Polite both should be firmly on the radar of a 49ers team that has seen its defense struggle in 2018 and each has the ability to make a significant impact in a game where they will be firmly under the microscope.

DeAndre Baker


Baker is viewed on a similar level to LSU's Greedy Williams as one of, if not the best college corners in the nation. Williams may be given the edge because of his superior size, but Baker's 5'11" and 185 frame should not put people off, particularly given Denzel Ward's early success for the Cleveland Browns. Baker's frame is better proportioned than that of Ward and he uses what size he does have and his obvious athletic attributes to impressive effect.

Boasting quick feet and fluid hips, Baker can effectively mirror receivers at the top of the route and is able to turn and run with them downfield, showing the recovery speed to be able to catch up to those who get over the top against him. Baker rarely allows receivers to gain inside leverage and uses his body well to keep them pinned to the sideline.

Where Baker really excels, however, is at the catch point, where he consistently gets his hands inside the frame of opposing receivers to disrupt passes. Combine that ability with the awareness to read the eyes of the quarterback and break quickly towards the football and it is no surprise that Baker has 22 pass deflections and seven interceptions so far in his college career.

Though the can occasionally give too much cushion in off coverage and has at times paid the price for being overly aggressive with his jam in press, Baker's ball skills would be of great use to a 49ers team that has only three takeaways on the season. Facing an unconvincing Florida quarterback in Feleipe Franks, Baker has the chance to pad his resume and strengthen his case to be a top-10 pick come April.

Jachai Polite


Many will want the 49ers to land the No. 1 pick and Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa but if that does not happen, there are numerous other edge players in a loaded class who will be in the conversation for San Francisco.
Polite, in the midst of a breakout season for the Gators, is one of them.

At 6'2" and 242 pounds Polite fits the build for a SAM linebacker who converts to a defensive end in nickel and dime situations. He has played as a stand-up pass rusher for Florida and has flourished in 2018, racking up 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Those numbers have come as a result of an impressive all-round skill set. Polite gets good burst off the snap to threaten the outside shoulder of tackles and has the ability to bend and dip round the edge, though he could serve to be more consistent in doing so.

While he does not excel in fronting up and attempting to bull rush opposing linemen, Polite has enough power to fight through blocks and can dominate when matched up with running backs and tight ends.

But it is his suddenness that allows him to regularly impact the game. Polite possesses quickness to win inside and change direction easily, while his spin move can make blockers look foolish when he executes it to the best of his ability.

Polite closes to the football in a hurry when he gets a free run to the quarterback and demonstrates the intelligence to use his arms to try force a fumble, as he did in Florida's signature win against LSU in Week 6. He also had two sacks and a pair of tackles for loss in that game, dominating to such an extent that the Tigers ended up doubling him with SEC freshman All-American left tackle Saahdiq Charles and running back Nick Brossette.

Facing another highly regarded left tackle in Georgia's Andrew Thomas, look for Polite's rapid rise up the boards to continue should he have a similarly impactful game in Athens.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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