Drafting Jaelan Phillips In The First Round Is A Crazy Proposition
We know that there’s going to be a handful of busts from the 2021 NFL Draft. Some are easier to see than others. When it comes to Jaelan Phillips, the draft gods are handing this one on a silver platter. For whatever reason, everybody is just willing to look past the glaring red flags for the shiny one-year wonder. It doesn’t make sense but that’s the world we live in.
Drafting Jaelan Phillips in the first round is completely laughable, but someone is going to do it. A weak edge rusher class and the temptation on landing a former big recruit at a “discounted price” will wind up making one team look foolish when it’s all said and done. Phillips doesn’t belong anywhere near the first round. I’m not sure how it’s disputable.
Phillips, 22 in May, was a five star recruit in the 2017 college football class. He attended UCLA and had a solid freshman season with seven sacks in six games. The following year, Phillips continued to be hampered by injuries and just flat out wasn’t effective nothing one sack and 12 tackles in four games.
His UCLA career was over at that point and was set to transfer to Miami. That’s not the problem. Being hampered by ankle and wrist injuries is one thing. Phillips literally retired from the sport because of head injuries. The list of Hall of Famers or Pro Bowlers in the NFL that retired in college doesn’t exist. Where are the examples?
When I pick a player in the first round, that’s my expectation. I want a future Hall of Famer or multiple time Pro Bowler. Otherwise, I’m making a massive mistake and need to trade down. How can anyone be confident that’s what you’re getting with Phillips?
Da’Quan Bowers is an example the Phillips proponents will point to as a reason to select him. Which is wild considering Bowers was a failed pick, but I’ll continue. Bowers was way more talented and likely could have been the first overall pick if it weren’t for injuries. Except… Bowers’ knees were shot and was taken in the second round by Tampa. He gave the Bucs seven sacks in five years and was later out of the league.
Phillips has talent but c’mon. He’s not close to the player Bowers was in college. Phillips hand technique is far from perfect and is often way too upright. I don’t see a ton of power and his pad level gets reckless. Sure, he can bend and get by unathletic tackles with raw athletic tools. Phillips can play but c’mon now.
Furthermore, I’m not sure Phillips is even the best edge rusher on his own team. A year ago, Gregory Rousseau was listed as a top 5-10 pick but his stock is dropping after opting out for the season. He’s better than Phillips. That’s a guy that notched 15.5 sacks as a sophomore without the head injuries. I’ll sign up for him instead. Better yet, I’m not even sure Phillips is better than Quincy Roche. That’s a dude that will get after you.
I don’t get it. I can’t come close to wrapping my head around this. An eight-sack, one-year wonder season somehow skyrocketed Jaelan Phillips into the first round despite the fact that he could retire again based on one bad hit in practice? WTF are we doing? Get me out of this stock. I want no part of it. Taking Phillips is a great way to get yourself fired.
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