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2021 NFL Draft profile: Miami Edge Jaelan Phillips

Could Phillips be the heir to Von Miller?

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Miami Hurricanes head into bye knowing true test in No. 1 Clemson is on the other side
ED1?
Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Thanks to their promising pair of edge rushers and a more aggressive pressure scheme, the Broncos were able to generate a pass rush last season without Von Miller. Bradley Chubb made the Pro Bowl while Malik Reed finished with 31 individual pass pressures as Vic Fangio adjusted to life without his future Hall of Famer.

Going forward, there are a number of questions.

Chubb enters the last season of his rookie contract while questions remain about Miller’s long-term future with the Broncos. Reed is set to become a Restricted Free Agent in 2022 and 2020 seventh rounder Derrek Tuszka is the only other outside linebacker on the roster. There is little doubt the Broncos will look to add another edge defender to the roster in the NFL Draft.

After destroying his Pro Day, there’s no way the Broncos can ignore Jaelan Phillips.

Should he be the heir to Von Miller?

At a glance:

Jaelan Phillips combines very good burst with the kind of frame and power you’d expect from former number one recruit. Phillips combines very good bend with the pass rush repertoire and play strength to become one of the best complete edge rushers in the NFL. The biggest concern teams will need to check off on is the 21-year old’s medical history after he retired from football due to a number of significant injuries.

Why he fits the Broncos

  • Phillips is a well built 266 lbs. with balance, flexibility, and twitch to play standing up or from a 3-point stance. In 2020 he rushed from a 3-point stance only 46% of the time. His last season at UCLA was just 1%. Coming out of high school he was the second ranked weakside defensive end by Rivals and the best outside linebacker by ESPN.
  • Elite athlete with very good agility, quickness, and explosiveness.
  • Very good competitive toughness who’s motor runs hot.
  • Good play strength and very good bend to play through a man or work his way around the arc.
  • Good burst and will try to jump the snap, keying both movement and cadence.
  • Very good run defender who is good at the point of attack and using his leverage to help teammates, good at stacking and meeting a puller, and is a threat to chase plays down from backside.
  • While he needs to continue to hone and master each one as well as develop a real counter, Phillips has utilized a long arm, rip, bull, and spin. His willingness to dabble as well as his athletic tools should provide a coaching staff a ton to work with.
  • While far better moving forward than dropping in space, Phillips isn’t a fish out of water if asked to drop into the flats.
  • Could become a weapon on stunts as he’s combines the strength to play penetrator and the lateral mobility to wreak havoc as a looper.

Reasons for concern

What I’ve seen/heard/read

  • Per Sports Info Solutions charting: Phillips was responsible for 35 individual pressures, 22 hurries, 17 hits, eight sacks, and 14.5 tackles for a loss in 2020. He generated pressure on 13% of his snaps.

“Jaelan Phillips is a high level athlete who has the length and athleticism to be an immediate threat as a pass rusher, with the potential to become a high level player if he improves his instincts. He projects best as a 9-tech or 3-4 outside linebacker”

- Expand the Box Score

“Phillips is the prototypical SDE, with good length, strength, and ability to rush the passer and has the upside to be a high-level pass rusher if he can add moves to his toolbox”

-Sports Info Solutions

Jaelan Phillips Draft and Combine Prospect Profile | NFL.com

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.

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Jaelan Phillips | The Draft Network

A balanced defender, Phillips is a playmaker against the run and pass, where his exciting blend of size, length, power, technique, and athleticism make him a challenge for offenses to neutralize. Phillips is a versatile player that has experience playing with his hand in the dirt on the edge, rushing from interior alignments, and playing in space in a standup role—which makes him a fit for all teams in the NFL. The areas of concern for Phillips entering the NFL are playing with better pad level, developing consistency with his hand technique, and becoming more consistent reducing his surface area while establishing a half-man relationship with his opponents as a pass rusher. Phillips has all the makings of an impact defender at the next level, although a large sample size of high-level production in college would have been preferred.

Former No. 1 recruit in the nation Jaelan Phillips explains his road to becoming a Miami Hurricane – The Athletic

“I had my first one when I was like 10 years old. Then when I got to UCLA, I think I had two diagnosed and one that was minor that I didn’t miss time for, but I was out for like a week. Their policy is if you have three and get to four, then you won’t play at all. They won’t clear you.

“Between that situation and getting hit by the car in January and breaking my wrist, I felt that was just the best decision for me. Once I had time to heal, though, I realized my body is still capable of things. So, I’m going to rock until the wheels come off.”

Final Thoughts

Before any team will consider Phillips their medical staff will need to clear him as the concussions, wrist, and ankles are significant risks. With that said he has the best combination of tools, tape, and upside in this class and presents as a strong Fangio fit.