The Miami Dolphins switched over to the defense with their second first-round pick of the 2021 NFL draft, taking University of Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips.
Phillips fills a major need for the Dolphins as an edge defender after they traded Shaq Lawson in the offseason and released Kyle Van Noy one year after signing him as an unrestricted free agent.
Phillips was the first defensive end/edge defender selected in the 2021 draft, meaning the Dolphins preferred him to any other player at that position in the NFL draft.
And they weren't alone.
In fact, if not for some concerns about Phillips' injury history at UCLA, it's fair to assume that Phillips would have been selected clearly earlier in the draft and even might have been a top 10 pick.
There absolutely is a lot to like about Phillips, a fabulous athlete who might be versatile enough to drop in coverage as well as rush the passer in the NFL.
In fact, one can see a little bit of Jason Taylor in his game and ironically his voice also is similar.
Former NFL head coach Jim Mora Jr. was his first coach at UCLA and he couldn't say enough good things about him. Mora also said the injury concerns were overblown, as was any concern about Phillips not loving football enough.
“There's no medical history," Mora said. "That's not an accurate assessment. There were things that went on after I left UCLA with Jalen that I don't think are accurately reported or accurately documented. People talk about a concussion history. He may have had a concussion, maybe two — and I don't ever want to downplay those — but there were other factors at play that led to him leaving UCLA. I think was a great move for him.
"I can tell you this that without hesitation, without even the slightest hesitation, if I have an opportunity to draft Jaelan Phillips, I would want him on my team. I’d want him in the locker room with the men around him. He's a leader. He's got great energy. He's a tremendous person. He comes from a great background. His family is supportive but they're not overwhelming. They're there for him. He's been through the fires. He's come out the other side a better man. He understands life and he's extremely motivated, and that has nothing to do with the amazing talent that he brings to your team.”
There clearly was a faction of Dolphins fans hoping the team would draft running back Najee Harris at this spot to further bolster the offense, but the need at the edge spot was much greater and it says here that Phillips has the potential to become just as good an NFL player as Harris, if not better.
Getting Phillips at 18 looks like a really good pick from this end, both in terms of the kind of prospect they got and in terms of filling a need. This was a very good pick.