2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jaelan Phillips

  • Jaelan Phillips, 6-5/266

  • Defensive End

  • Miami

  • Jaelan Phillips Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Instinctive
  • Athletic
  • Excellent motor
  • Advanced read-and-react skills
  • Good vision
  • Adjusts well to moving quarterbacks, running backs
  • Burst off the ball
  • Good get off
  • Speed to get around the corner
  • Dangerous inside rush move
  • Has a burst to close on the quarterback
  • Functional strength, length
  • Ability to use hands and feet at same time
  • Active hands
  • Able to shed blocks
  • Agile; not stiff
  • Nice ability to redirect
  • Tough run defender
  • Upside to get better
  • Versatile for 3-4 or 4-3 defense

  • Weaknesses:
  • One-year wonder
  • Not a pure speed demon
  • Could use refinement of pass-rushing moves

  • Summary: When Temple standout Quincy Roche transferred to Miami, the Hurricanes were expected to have a dynamic pass-rushing tandem with Roche and Gregory Rousseau. Rousseau then decided to skip the 2020 season, but another transfer, former UCLA defensive end Jaelan Phillips, ended up picking up the slack, breaking out with Miami. Phillips was a top recruit coming out of high school, but he never found his stride with the Bruins. Phillips notched 21 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a freshman and then recorded 20 tackles and a sack in 2018. After his sophomore year, Phillips transferred to Miami, and he sat out the 2019 season per the tyrannical NCAA rules that benefit universities but not students.

    Miami gave Rousseau’s No.15 to Phillips, and some NFL evaluators feel Phillips is a better and more well-rounded player than the much hyped Rousseau. In the shortened 2020 season, Phillips totaled 45 tackles, eight sacks, one interception and three passes defended. He came up with clutch plays for the Hurricanes and was more disruptive than the numbers indicate. After his breakout junior year, Phillips decided to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

    There is no doubt that Phillips has a good skill set for the NFL. He has good size, strength, quickness and athleticism. With his versatile skill set, Phillips should fit any NFL defense given his ability to remain a base end in a 4-3 or stand up to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Phillips possesses a phenomenal motor and gives a relentless effort in both phases, making him a very disruptive edge defender.

    As a pass rusher, Phillips is not a pure speed demon off the edge, but he still is a versatile defender. Phillips has an excellent move to the inside, shpwomg functional strength on a swim move to dart to the inside of tackles with a burst to close on the quarterback in a hurry. Phillips uses his good strength and good leverage to bull rush his way into the pocket. He also has active hands and uses them at the same time with his feet. Thanks to his length, strength and good hands, Phillips is adept at shedding blocks and putting pressure on the quarterback. He shows nice vision, instincts, and an ability to redirect to chase down moving quarterbacks.

    Phillips is very good in run defense, as he is strong to set the edge and holds his ground against downhill runs. Phillips uses his strong hands, length and strength to shed blocks to chase down backs for tackles. With his burst, Phillips is dangerous to get upfield and blow up runs in the backfield. He is a well-rounded player who will be an asset as a run defender in the NFL.

    For the next level, it would help Phillips to continue to build up his repertoire of pass-rushing moves. He could make himself more dangerous and versatile for dealing with pro offensive tackles by adding club, rip and spin moves.

    Phillips looks likely to be a top-25 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and should become a future three-down starter. He has a very good skill set with a lot of upside to develop. Phillips could become a Pro Bowl defensive end during his career.

    Player Comparison: Cam Jordan. In terms of style of play, Phillips reminds me of Jordan. Jordan (6-4, 287) is heavier, while Phillips is longer, but both have good motors and well-rounded play as run defenders and pass rushers. Similar to Jordan, Phillips has a lot of upside entering the NFL.


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