DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL)* (6’5”, 260)
The top recruit in 2017, he originally attended UCLA,, where he spent two seasons before temporarily retiring due to health issues (was limited to just four games as a sophomore after sustaining a concussion). In those seasons, posted 21-7.0-3.5 and 20-1.0-1.0 over a combined eleven games. After sitting out 2019 due to transfer rules, posted a huge 45-15.5-8.0 line over ten games at Miami before declaring for the draft.
Really looks the part, with excellent size, bulk, and length. Has experience rushing out of both two- and three-point stances. Plays with patience in the run game. Good arm extension and anchor strength to set the edge. Functional strength is good, especially in his lower body. Active with his hands to shed. Has adequate athleticism and range when pursuing laterally. Advanced pass-rusher who can win in different ways; varies his rushing approach successfully. Covers a lot of ground with his first step and gets up to speed quickly. Flashes a tight swim move and impressive ability to dip and bend for a player of his size. Very good extension and placement with his straight-arm. Works in a lot of inside moves and is capable of making himself skinny or working in a swim move to get penetration; suddenness is well above average for his size. Flexible. Good length to go for the backside strip when coming around the edge.
Played on the left side of the defensive line almost exclusively. Recognition skills in the run game still appear to be developing. Can get sucked in and struggle to recover positioning. A good athlete but doesn’t have quite the type of play speed his timed speed would indicate. Sometimes appears to not be playing from a totally stable base. Would like to see him use more power- or speed-to-power-based approaches; tends to rely more on quickness or explosiveness/bend. Can get a little bit high and end up stuck on blocks at the line of scrimmage. Often lined up in a two-point stance but was basically a pure rusher who wasn’t really asked to drop into coverage. Previous retirement may create questions about his medicals and/or commitment.
Possibly solidified his status as the first pass-rusher off the board in this class after his impressive Pro Day performance, which, combined with his physical and athletic tools and junior-year production for the Hurricanes, could allow him to come off the board in the first half of the first round. As an advanced player with a diverse approach who is capable of both rushing the passer and two-gapping in the run game, should be able to contribute sooner rather than later.