“With the 18th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Jaelan Phillips, defensive end, Miami.” -Rodger Goodell (via Miami Dolphins Facebook).
The NFL Draft is funny because fans cheer or boo draft picks without ever seeing them play in an NFL game.
For Phillips, a large majority of the Dolphins fan base was not happy to hear his name called.
They may not have necessarily booed the selection of Phillips, but internally they were angry at the thought that Miami passed on Alabama running back Najee Harris.
Harris was a Dolphins fan favorite during draft season, and fans wanted him badly at pick 18 if he were there. When Miami was on the clock, Harris was still available, and fans started to get pumped up at the idea of adding Tua Tagovailoa’s college running back to the offense.
Miami made the right choice by selecting Jaelan Phillips.
Harris is a good running back, and there is no debating that, but Miami should have never taken a running back that early in the draft. The shelf life of a running back in the NFL is too short, and even though Harris is great, look at all the teams who take running backs high and what those running backs are doing.
Taking Phillips was a big picture move, and after 13 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, that big picture is a beautiful big picture.
Jaelan Phillips is a DUDE!
Phillips, who was the No. 1 recruit in the 2017 recruiting class (via 247 Sports), has always been a highly regarded player. The talent has been there, and there was no debating that. The only issue was that Phillips was injured a lot and had a scooter accident that set him back.
That led to many people worrying about Phillips’ medical history in the NFL, but Miami and their medical team clearly felt comfortable making the pick still. And luckily, they did.
Phillips started the year slow, but that could be attributed to Miami’s coaches trying to put a triangle in a circle and dropping him in coverage too much. That is not Phillips game and never will be.
Phillips is a pure pass rusher and a darn good one. If you watch the All-22 of the Dolphins defense and just watch it as a typical game without focusing on a certain player, Phillips pops on film.
You can see the former No. 1 recruit in the nation is a DUDE just the way he works on the football field.
Phillips has speed, strength, and he’s already becoming crafty. But there is one thing that you have, or you don’t, and that’s a motor. Phillips has an incredible motor, and he’s always running to the ball trying to make plays.
And trust me, he’s making a lot of plays.
During Miami’s five-game winning streak, Phillips has seven sacks. He has eight and a half on the season, a Miami Dolphins rookie record.
It isn’t just about the sacks for Phillips, either. He is causing havoc in the backfield and pressuring the quarterback a ton. He is also becoming a player offensive lines worry about, which allows other players to get to the quarterback too.
Washington Football Teams edge defender Chase Young, who they took No. 2 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, won Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. Young only had seven and a half sacks the entire year. Young also had ten tackles for a loss, and Phillips already has seven.
Young, who played over 73% of Washington’s snaps, is a great player, and this is no disrespect to him, but Phillips has been better. And Phillips has been doing all this while only playing over 53% of the snaps for the Dolphins.
Phillips has played 20% fewer snaps for his team yet has outproduced Young. That stat alone is incredible, but then when you start to tie it into Miami’s win streak as well, you see just how amazing Phillips has been.
The 18th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft has been one of the main reasons the Dolphins can make the playoffs. Phillips gives the Dolphins defense a legitimate threat on the edge and allows the guys on the backend to go to work.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons has been playing like a First-Team All-Pro linebacker in his rookie season. He will likely win Defensive Rookie of the Year, but do not count out Jaelan Phillips.
If Phillips can keep producing sacks and impacting the game every week, he will have a legitimate shot at making his case to be the DROY. You could easily argue no rookie defender has meant more to their team this season than Phillips outside of Parsons and Dolphins safety Jevon Holland (who is also a DUDE).
DROY or not, Phillips has silenced his critics. There will always be a fan or two who talk about Harris and what he could do for Miami’s offense, but they will become fewer and fewer as Phillips keeps producing.
Jaelan Phillips was always the right pick, and he’s proving to be even better than we all expected.