Jaelan Phillips - EDGE, Miami
By the numbers:
6'5", 266 pounds.
2020: 45 tackles (15.5 for loss), eight sacks, three passes broken up in 10 games played.
Miami's Jaelan Phillips has one of the most impressive overall profiles out of any player in this draft class. After returning to school in 2019, he bulked back up to his current playing weight and made the most of his NFL-ready frame. He has ideal size for a pro defensive end and his long arms make him a difficult assignment. This is evident when Phillips unleashes his inside swim move, as his movements are intentional and he quickly casts opposing offensive linemen aside.
Not only does Phillips have the size to be a good NFL player, but his athletic profile is also great. He has a tremendous first step that he combines with a good speed-to-power transition and plus agility. He explodes around the edge and remains flexible throughout the entirety of the rep. Phillips can win with quickness, but he also has the power to match. His long arms, again, help him in that regard. There isn't much that he can't do as a pass-rusher.
Medicals are the main concern with Phillips, and those worries are more than warranted. His wrist and ankle ailments in prior seasons are minor, but he walked away from football in 2018 because of concussions. With another offseason impacted by COVID-19 on the horizon, how Phillips is evaluated may make or break his draft stock. He's healthy now, but only has one complete season under his belt and nearly let injuries derail his career in the past. That's worth noting.
On the field, Phillips is great. With that said, he'll need to switch up his pass-rush plan at the next level in order to remain consistently effective. His pad level also gets higher than desired on occasion, so remaining low will be a point of emphasis. If he can refine those two aspects of his game, it could take him from being a good NFL player to a great one.
How Phillips fits with the Chiefs:
Because the Chiefs are losing Taco Charlton, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor to free agency, EDGE is a major position of need. They also could use a long-term complementary piece across from Frank Clark. Not only is Phillips scheme-diverse, but his size is within the parameters of what Steve Spagnuolo typically looks for. He'd be a great fit with the Chiefs and could probably start immediately. He checks off every box.
Phillips has a rare blend of size, length and athletic ability that makes him a tantalizing talent in the draft. He has the potential to be one of the top pass-rushers from this year's class — he's that good. His medicals are legitimate concerns and he has a little work to do before truly taking off, so he doesn't come without downsides. On the other hand, he has all the tools to be exactly what the Chiefs are looking for in an EDGE and his ceiling is through the roof. Phillips grades out as an early second-round selection (a top 40 prospect) who is well worth the risk.