DFF Draft Coverage: Jaelan Phillips to the Dolphins

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Jaelan Phillips | Miami                   6’5½” 260 lbs.                  5/28/1999 (Age 21)

Jaelan Phillips was drafted 18th overall by the Miami Dolphins, becoming the fifth defensive player drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.

College Production

 Year  Games Played    Tackles    TFLs    Sacks    PDs  
 2017 (FR)  6  21  7.0  3.5  2
 2018 (SO)  4  20  1.0  1.0  0
 2020 (JR)    10  45  15.5  8.0  3

Jaelan Phillips is a story where potential finally met opportunity and production in 2020. Phillips began his collegiate career with accolades and notoriety as he was ranked a top-three recruit in the nation in 2017, even ahead of Chase Young. He chose to stay close to home and attend UCLA, where a string of bad injury luck awaited him. Phillips started in four of the seven games he played as a freshman (21 tackles, seven for loss, with 3.5 sacks) but struggled through an ankle injury and suffered a concussion. In 2018, he suffered a wrist injury when he was hit by a car and later suffered another concussion during the season. He gutted through four games compiling 20 total tackles, with one TFL and one sack.

Phillips briefly decided to step away from football, but changed his mind and decided to transfer to the University of Miami, sitting out the 2019 season under transfer eligibility regulations. Finally, it was in Miami where he flourished, displaying a quick first step, flexibility to bench around the edge, and closing burst to make it to the QB and finish. While he needs to improve his play strength, he is competent and aware against the run game and possesses the requisite length required to set the edge. Phillips finished sixth in the nation with 15.5 TFLs and led the Hurricanes with eight sacks.

Athletic Testing

Phillips posted an incredible 4.56 40-yard dash at the Miami Pro Day and was noticeably upset in his post-work-out interviews, stating he had routinely run in the 4.4s during training. His time would have been the fastest time for a defensive lineman at last year’s NFL combine, or this year’s (if there had been one). Phillips added a 36” vertical (he shared this was his personal best) and 10’5” broad jumps to his impressive run. He actually led all Miami players at the workout with the fastest shuttle run of 4.12 seconds. His 21 bench press reps were enough to satisfy NFL GMs. Phillips adds these outstanding numbers to his already impressive 2021 film resume. 

Draft Analysis

Rapid Reaction to Draft Capital: Great
Rapid Reaction to Landing Spot: Great

Jaelan Phillips was selected with the 18th pick by the Miami Dolphins. Under coach Brian Flores, the Miami unit has excelled and perhaps even overachieved given its talent. Adding Phillips to their previous rotation of edge defenders gives them an alpha pass-rusher they so desperately needed. With the young, hungry veterans on the defensive front (Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins, Zach Sieler, Andrew Van Ginkel) combined with the outstanding cover corners Miami possesses, Phillips should immediately have opportunities to create big plays.

Fantasy Insights

The primary concerns with Jaelan Phillips have always stemmed around his health and reliability. Having just completed the 2020 season in which he played every single snap, as well as participated in every practice the team held, your author’s concerns were alleviated. Phillips possesses an upside that is matched by perhaps only Gregory Rousseau in this year’s crop of IDPs. He was your author’s EDGE1 both pre-draft and certainly is post-draft.

Phillips’ landing spot on the Dolphins is fortuitous in the fact that it offers immediate opportunity, as well as established veterans to take the pressure off of him. He should be valued in the top tier of IDP players in rookie drafts. Pending league scoring settings, he will be either the first IDP taken or the first DL taken in IDP rookie drafts. Consequently, Phillips should be drafted in the mid-second round of IDP rookie drafts.

Thank you for checking out DFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Coverage! Stay tuned as we break down every fantasy-relevant pick during the draft. Please consider our yearly DFF subscription, so we can continue to deliver top-notch analysis and fantasy breakdowns. 

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Founder of Fantasy Football Fright Night | #FFFN | @FFFrightNight| PhD | Staff Writer; Copy Editor @DFF_Dynasty| #IDP | #Devy | #DynastyFootball | #DFFArmy

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