Jaelan Phillips Draft Profile
There aren’t that many elite upside rushers in this draft, but Jaelan Phillips undoubtedly has high end upside. Prior to transferring to Miami, Phillips was forced to medically retire from football due to the amount of concussions that he had sustained. Soon after, Phillips came out of retirement, transferred, then became a star. In his final college season, Phillips put up 8.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, and was second-team All-ACC. Phillips is expected to be one of the top defenders picked in this draft and has been sailing up draft boards the past few weeks.
First things first, Jaelan Phillips passes the eye test. Standing at 6’5 260 lbs., Phillips is versatile; he can win with speed, power, and his hands. Quickness and motor also stand out when watching Phillips play. His feet operate like a basketball player’s; he’ll either hit offensive linemen with a crossover, eurostep, or jab step. At Miami, Phillips showed that he’s capable of running stunts and he flourishes when using his hands. His two favorite moves are hand swipes and swim moves. While Phillips isn’t one of those straight speed rushers, his speed shows off in other areas. One of those areas is his get off, he is always the first person off the ball and he is very comfortable in a two point stance. Versatility doesn’t just describe his rush package, but where he lines up. While it wasn’t often, Phillips showed that he is capable of rushing the passer from the inside and his physicality helped him in that aspect. Phillips also has very good bend at the top of his rush. Phillips’ ceiling is nonpareil compared to the rest of the 2021 edge rusher draft class.
The most obvious question mark that comes with Phillips is his health. It’s scary drafting players with a serious injury and concussion history. First and foremost, teams need to be comfortable with Phillips’ medicals and if he starts to slide on draft day that is why. If all of Phillips’ medicals check out, another big concern I have with him is his ability to play the run. At times, Phillips gets so carried away trying to sack the quarterback that he gets way too upfield leaving open running lanes. This is an attributing factor for why Miami’s run defense was so bad this year, just ask UNC. We all know that Phillips’ potential is through the roof, but he’s still trying to unlock a few of his pass rush moves. I noticed multiple times that he would completely fail when attempting a spin move and get turned around. Phillips is capable of being a monster in the NFL, but it all comes down to coaching and his health.
So many teams could use a great pass rusher, but I don’t see Phillips making it to the 20’s. The first team I thought of is the Buffalo Bills. They couldn’t even touch Patrick Mahomes in the AFC championship last year and they’d put Phillips in a great position to succeed. Buffalo will need to trade up in order to get Phillips as will the Ravens. Baltimore just lost Matthew Judon and they need another player to get pressure on the outside. The Dolphins are in a sweet spot to draft Phillips. Brian Flores is missing his major outside pass rush, and Phillips wouldn’t have to move very far. When it comes to ceiling, a good projection for Jaelan Phillips is Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) and I think a floor could be Ziggy Ansah. JPP is a complete rusher that can win in all sorts of ways, but Ansah is the high ceiling low floor type of player who is a beast, but can’t stay healthy. I expect Phillips to be a top 20 pick because he’s a top 20 player in this draft.
Run Defender 3.5/7
Pass Rush Moves 5.5/6
Get Off/Motor 4.5/5
Final Rating: 85
Pro Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul and Ezekiel Ansah
Team Fits: Bills, Ravens, Dolphins
Draft Ranking: Top 20 Player
Draft Projection: Top 20 Pick