According to reports, the Broncos were interested in trading back into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Miami edge rusher, Jaelan Phillips.
The Broncos considered trading up for Jaelan Phillips, but the Dolphins drafted him first. https://t.co/9TR1XVVAR8— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 3, 2021
Phillips ended up going 18th overall to the Miami Dolphins, but if Phillips started to slip into the ’20s, Broncos General Manager George Paton was prepared to pounce. NFL Network’s Mike Silver who was in the room at the time documented this in his story about the behind-the-scenes actions in the Broncos war room.
Then things got interesting. Paton, who hurriedly called for a phone charger midway through the first round (he had several mobile devices and a landline at the ready), also coveted former University of Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, who he had assumed would go in the top 15. When that didn’t happen, Paton began to consider trading back into the first round, initiating some preliminary conversations with teams that had picks in the mid-20s and early 30s. (One of those calls went to Gutekunst, the owner of the 29th selection, who was open to trading out of the first round. Mindful of the time constraints and the context, Paton chose not to bring up Rodgers in that conversation.) When the Dolphins picked Phillips with the 18th overall pick, the trade-up scenario was moot, and Paton set his sights on Friday’s second and third rounds.
This would have been a major move if Phillips did indeed slip. He had top 15 to potentially top 10 talent, but concussion concerns were a red flag to some teams. The highly athletic and explosive edge rusher would have been able to learn and be groomed behind Von Miller this season before potentially replacing him next offseason.
Obviously, this trade did not happen and the Broncos kept their picks and had themselves one of the better drafts around the league. This trade-up would have significantly changed the outlook of their draft. With that said, adding the top cornerback and edge rusher in the draft would have been quite the haul for George Paton and Vic Fangio.
We shall see how Phillips pans out in Miami and could be left wondering “what if” if he goes on to have a successful career with the Dolphins.