The Miami Dolphins used their second first-round pick against Jaelan Phillips and it looks like he’s going to play a key role right away for Brian Flores’ side.
Rusher Edge Jaelan Phillips finally lived up to his old 5-star rookie pedigree with the Miami Hurricanes during the 2020 season after being transferred from UCLA. But after the season, despite listing his name in the NFL Draft, he brought all of his belongings home to California. In a twist of irony, however, the Miami Dolphins essentially told him to back them off when they drafted Phillips in 18th overall.
No matter how many times he has to move his business between Miami and California, Phillips is going to play a key role for the Dolphins right away. When the team traded Shaq Lawson this offseason, they kind of hinted that they were looking to get younger and more explosive. And Phillips is the perfect player for that.
Although he really only had one year with elite cinema after a tumultuous stint at UCLA and a flirtation with retirement, Phillips was the best overall mix of athleticism, polish and shattering. of this year’s draft class. Put simply, it was obvious why he was so touted when he left high school.
But with that, some might assume he’s going to have a big learning curve in the NFL. That may be true in some ways, but overall he’s going to play a crucial role right away and will only see it expand as the season progresses.
Jaelan Phillips’ versatility and athleticism will allow him to flourish early and develop his role as the season progresses.
Coming from his time with the Patriots, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores values versatility with his onboard rushers. And according to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe (subscription required), Phillips ticks those boxes because he’s clearly shown the tools this offseason to function effectively both as an outside linebacker standing in a 3-4 front or as a defensive end in 4-3 looks.
That said, it looks like Miami is going to get him to play that role as the season progresses, not just immediately toss him into the fire. Instead, it looks like Phillips will see most of her looks as a standing mantra rather than his hand in the dirt. This makes sense given his body type and where he is most effective right now.
Bringing it this way will accomplish two things. First, it will allow Phillips to fill his frame to be better suited to the NFL with his hand in the dirt. More importantly, he’ll provide an instant response to Miami’s passing rush, which is crucial. They need to get more consistent effective pressure without blitzing and Phillips is a player who can.
From everything we hear, Phillips is on track to be 100% the player we expected of him. His ability to explosively pursue the passer will be visible from the start and we’ll only see him more over the course of the 18-week, 17-game season. And if the promise tells us anything, the rookie is only going to get more attention as their role grows.