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2021 NFL Draft Profile: Jaelan Phillips might be the missing piece on the Dolphins defensive line

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Miami Hurricanes head into bye knowing true test in No. 1 Clemson is on the other side Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Over the next few days, we here at The Phinsider will be bringing you player profiles focusing on some of the top players in this year’s draft class. Here, we will look at the player’s measurables, what the ‘eXpeRts aNd AnAlySts’ are saying about the prospect, and how each player fits in Miami’s offensive or defensive systems.

Here are the prospects we have covered so far.

Next up, Miami Hurricanes pass-rusher Jaelan Phillips.

College Career

Career: 20 games, 80 total tackles (49 solos), 12 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 5 passes defended.

  • Freshman (2017, UCLA): 6 games, 21 total tackles (16 solos), 3.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended.
  • Sophomore (2018, UCLA): 4 games, 20 total tackles (12 solos), one tackle for loss.
  • Junior (2020, Miami): 10 games, 6 games, 45 total tackles (21 solo), 8 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, 3 passes defended.


From Miami pro day:

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 260 lbs

Arm Length: 33.25”

Hand size: 9-75”

Spider Chart (via

Combine-style testing

From Miami pro day:

Bench Press: 21 reps

Vertical: 36”

Broad jump: 10’ 5”

40-yard dash: 4.58 sec

20-yard shuttle: 2.69 sec

3-cone drill: 7.13 sec

What they are saying

Jake Marcus, State of the U Blog - Teams may be hesitant to take Jaelan Phillips too early due to his medical history and small sample size at the collegiate level, but his freakish athleticism and natural playmaking ability will ultimately make him one of the first, if not the first, EDGE defenders to have his name called by Roger Goodell on Thursday night - he is in the upper echelon at the position with Kwity Paye (Michigan) and Azeez Ojulari (Georgia). He projects well in basically any scheme but mostly lined up outside the right tackle this year

Lance Zierlein, - Edge defender with plus physical attributes and a motor that keeps him working and attacking throughout the rep. Philips might have the combination of length and athleticism that would allow teams to look at him with a hand on the ground or standing depending on his weight. Adding play strength will be important so that he can stack it up when setting the edge as a run defender in the league. He’s a slippery-limbed pass rusher with good first-step quickness, which bodes well for his future rush success if he gets better with his hands and learns a go-to counter. He has a shot at becoming a solid future starter along the edge if his medicals pan out.

Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network - Explosive edge rusher who took his game to the next level and is coming off a sensational season. Breaks down well, plays with outstanding pad level, and gets leverage on opponents. Fluid moving in every direction and displays a tremendous first step off the snap. Flows well laterally and gets down the line of scrimmage to make plays in space.

Fundamentally sound displays solid technique with his hands, and covers a good amount of area on the field. Easily changes direction, bends off the edge, and shows great speed up the field. Agile, nicely redirects and plays tough, instinctive football. Does more than just rush up the field and get after the passer and gives effort defending the run. Chases downfield to make plays if necessary.

Pro Football Focus- Phillips’ path to a monster 2020 season is straight out of Hollywood — literally. He was hit by a car while riding a scooter while at UCLA in 2018 and suffered wrist and head injuries. Phillips then retired later that year after suffering another concussion. He returned to the game, though, this time at Miami and was arguably the best defensive end in the country over the second half of 2020. He racked up nine sacks and 36 total pressures in his final seven games. While medicals will be big for him, Phillips’ five-star tools finally translated to five-star production.

Dolphins fit

Yesterday, I posted my top-5 players at each position, and Jaelan Phillips was my top EDGE defender. Sure, the medical history is a concern, and I would like to know more about the situation at UCLA. But ultimately, the Miami Dolphins don’t pass on good players. Jaelan Phillips is a good player. An outstanding player. And in 2020, he showed the world what he was capable of.

Phillips dominated whoever lined up opposite of him. Guards were no match, and neither were most tackles. His Mr.Miyagi hands were too quick for the opposition. His strength and quickness as well. Jaelan Phillips can do it all. Whether that meant setting the EDGE in the run game or exploding off the line on his way to the quarterback,

Adding Jaelan Phillips, to Miami’s ascending defense spells trouble for the rest of the league. Quarterbacks everywhere would go to sleep at night, fearing the day they play Brian Flores’ football team. If the medicals checkout and Phillips can remain healthy, there may not be a better pass-rusher in this class.

With the 18th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft...