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2021 NFL Draft Profile: DE Jaelan Phillips

2021 NFL Draft Profile: DE Jaelan Phillips

Zach Shashoua
After having an All-American season, the transfer DE Jaelan Phillips will look to hear his name called in this year's NFL Draft.

Phillips made his decision to enroll at Miami in 2019 but had to sit out the football season due to transfer rules after making the move from UCLA. In the 2020 season, the redshirt junior was all over the place for UM, as Phillips tallied 15.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 45 total tackles, and an interception. The former Bruin earned AP All-American and All-ACC second-team honors for the Hurricanes on the way to forgoing his final year of eligibility and declaring for the NFL Draft.


Pre Draft Measurables

Height: 6’5 ½”

Weight: 260 pounds

Arms: 33 ¼”

Hands: 9 ¾”


Strengths

Speed/Athleticism/Body Control

Philips moves very well for a 6’5 ½”, 260-pound edge rusher. He shows the ability to be flexible with his weight, and his acceleration causes problems for the opposition. He uses his body control to get skinny when shooting the gaps to get to the backfield. When rushing the edge, he uses his wide frame and length to beat the defender and get to the quarterback, and displays great acceleration. If a scout needed proof of his athleticism, look no further than to his pro day where Jaelan put up very impressive numbers: 4.56 40-yard dash (95th percentile), 115-inch broad jump (92nd percentile), 36-inch vertical jump (81st percentile), 4.13 short shuttle (94th percentile), and 7.01 3-cone (82nd percentile). His athleticism is indisputable and he is only getting better.


Awareness/Toughness

One thing that you cannot doubt about Phillips is his toughness and his ability to go 110% every play. When he gets his hands on the ball carrier, it's pretty much guaranteed that it will result in a tackle. You will never see him take a snap-off as he is always trying to make plays and wreak havoc. Phillips also displays a great football IQ and overall awareness of the game. Phillips is very cognizant as a run defender and most of the time knows when to commit or play more conservatively. His mental game is what allows him to be so successful.


Weaknesses

Past Injuries

During his time at UCLA, Jaelan suffered some injuries which eventually led to him to medically retire. He endured injuries to the wrist and ankle while also having some concussions. This is something that NFL personnel are wary about because football is a very physically demanding game and injuries can heavily sap production. Although he played in every game at UM and was known to never miss a practice, lift, or film session, organizations may be hesitant to select Phillips due to his history of battling injuries.


Use of hands off the edge

If there’s one aspect to Phillips’ game that can be improved, it is learning to use his hands more efficiently while rushing. The use of his size will not be as beneficial at the next level if he cannot evade the bigger/stronger/faster opposing linemen. In college, an edge rusher can get away with the fact that their size and speed will help them get in the backfield, but in the NFL, players go up against some of the biggest and strongest players in the league in the O-Line. If Jaelan can improve on the usage of his hands when getting into the backfield and stacking moves upon moves, there’s no doubt that he can be the best edge to come out of this draft.


Draft Projection: 1st Round

When Phillips transferred to Miami, many thought that he would be the backup to his former teammate, Gregory Rousseau. But when Rousseau opted out of the season to prepare for the draft, Phillips stepped up and was eager to take on that starting role. At the beginning of the season in his return from his medical retirement, Phillips started the year very slow and there were some questions on whether he would end up having to stay another season at UM. But, as the year went on, it was evident that he was ready to test his skills at the next level. Despite his durability concerns, Phillips has a very good chance to go in the first round, as many around the league believe he can be a high-level starter within his first two years.
 

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2022 Commits

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185
Nashville, TN
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6'1"
210
Manvel, TX
OT
6'7"
275
Sandersville, GA

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