The Dolphins went offense first in the 2021 NFL Draft, selecting Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle with the 6th pick. Is it possible that the next pick, at #18 was even more important to the team’s success in 2021? I believe it is. I think Phillips changes this defense, legitimizes this defense. This defense was close to being elite last season, I think Phillips can put us over the top. We need a true pass rushing threat to allow Emmanuel Ogbah to grow from his excellent 2020 campaign. Shaq Lawson wasn’t enough, and I’ll illustrate why.
Emmanuel Ogbah was tearing it up, he had 8 sacks in the first 9 games last season. Then they decided to take Ogbah out of the picture by double teaming him and w/o any threat from the other side, it lasted the rest of the season with Ogbah managing only 1 sack in the final 7 games, after accumulating 8 in the first 9. Let me be clear, it’s not about Ogbah, it’s about having multiple threats that need to be accounted for by the opposing offense. If Phillips makes an early impact then it will give everyone a chance because it’s a pick your poison type of situation. If they double Ogbah, Phillips will make them pay, and vice versa. Again, this affects everyone though, because this will allow everyone to succeed, including AVG, Baker, McKinney, Wilkins, Davis etc.
So, the question is, will Jaelan Phillips be the difference maker? He had a very incomplete college career due to injuries. Both ankles, and a couple of concussions ruined his Freshman and Sophomore seasons and he actually skipped a year (2019) and transferred from UCLA to Miami in 2020. He had a very nice season for the Hurricanes but that’s the bulk of his college career, one nice season. What seems to be the cumulative scouting report is he’s a gifted defensive player that can play either 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB and his talent and size would allow him to do either well. He has a legitimate pass rush repertoire, and his combination of length, power and speed make him difficult to contain. It seems the biggest concerns are his medicals (concussions). There are also mentions that he needs to improve his core strength and bulk, things they also said about Jason Taylor. He certainly has an incomplete resume, but the talent is clearly there, he was the #1 rated recruit at DE in the country by 247 Sports, who basically set the table for college recruiting. The ankle injuries themselves aren’t a concern and the kid has played through pain. The concussions are the demon that could quickly ruin a player as we saw when we picked up TE Jordan Cameron from the Cleveland Browns. To be fair, there were at least 4 or 5 documented concussions for Cameron and from what I’ve seen, just 2 for Phillips. The Dolphins rolled the dice, and I like the action. I think Phillips is going to be huge for us, can’t wait to see him in our defense!