As the New Year begins and the 2021 NFL regular season starts to come to an end, writers all over the country will begin to pen their end-of-the-season awards, first and second-team honors, and everything in between.
The first of these opinion-based articles (at least from what I saw) came from NFL’s Gil Brandt.
Brandt, the former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-1989), did the unthinkable and put two Miami Dolphins rookies on his 2021 Defensive All-Rookie Team. Here’s what the 2019 Hall of Famer had to say about the 18th overall pick, Jaelan Phillips.
“Phillips, selected No. 18 overall in the draft, has definitely brought some spice to the Dolphins’ pass rush; with 8.5 sacks to his name and two games on the schedule, he has a chance (along with veteran pass-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, who has 9.0 sacks) to be the first Miami player to reach double digits in that category since Cameron Wake did it in 2017. Notably, seven of Phillips’ sacks have come during the Dolphins’ seven-game win streak.”
And, of course, no rookie list would be complete without safety Jevon Holland. Brandt spoke highly of Miami’s second-round draft pick, as well.
“PFF gives Holland the second best overall defensive grade among all rookies with 200-plus snaps, behind only Parsons, and the best coverage grade. NGS, meanwhile, credits Holland with the best ballhawk rate (37.5%) and completion percentage allowed against expectation (-7.8%) among first-year pros with 20-plus targets. Between Holland and Phillips, Miami landed a pair of defensive gems in this draft.”
Most impressive is not that the Dolphins hit on two excellent defensive prospects in Jaelan Phillips and Jevon Holland. What’s most impressive to me is that with all of the prospects available and their pick of the litter at EDGE and safety, Brian Flores (I give him most of the credit TBH) and Chris Grier showed conviction and went with their draft board.
They took Phillips when many may have gone with Najee Harris, Kwity Paye, or Azeez Ojulari.
And when myself and others were pleading with Miami to draft Javonte Williams, the Dolphins had their eyes set on the game-changing safety from Oregon. A move that, in hindsight, appears to be the right one.
I know it’s early, and a lot can change, but Chris Grier and the Dolphins’ organization should be ecstatic with this draft class’s immediate impact. A draft class that has the potential to produce not one, not two, but three superstar prospects—with two of those players being the missing piece in Brian Flores’s defense.
On Sunday, Jaelan Phillips, Jevon Holland, and Miami’s defense will face their toughest matchup of the season. Let’s ride!
How do you feel less than 24 hours before the Miami Dolphins face the Tennessee Titans? In hindsight, are you happy that the Dolphins drafted Jaelan Phillips and Jevon Holland? What are your thoughts on facing Ryan Tannehill in a must-win game in January? Let us know in the comments section below!