Jaelan Phillips is Dion Jordan 2.0
Jaelan Phillips has been one of the more perplexing prospects in this year’s draft for me. But that’s not to say that I don’t know where I would place him, but rather I cannot, for the life of me, understand why some analysts have him graded so high.
Let’s tell it like it is: Jaelan Phillips is not that good. If Greg Rousseau hadn’t opted out of the 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Phillips wouldn’t have even been the best edge rusher on his team, let alone the 2021 draft class. 8 sacks is decent production, but to me, it doesn’t pop off the page in the way that I would expect such a highly-touted prospect’s stats to. Stats don’t tell the whole story, but for Phillips, that tape doesn’t tell the tale of a particularly dominant player either. At the point of attack, Phillips looks a little bit soft, especially with some of the more physical offensive lineman he faced in 2020.
Honestly, the pro comparisons to Cam Jordan (which is absolutely absurd, by the way), Maxx Crosby and Melvin Ingram miss the mark. The closest pro comparison for Jaelan Phillips is one that he probably wouldn’t be ecstatic about: Dion Jordan.
Dion Jordan’s strengths and weaknesses on his draft profiles were almost identical to Phillips‘. In terms of strength, both are “tremendous physical specimens” with “great bend and athleticism”. In terms of weaknesses, both displayed a lack of strength at the point of attack and durability concerns. On top of these similar profiles, Jordan and Phillips had similar stats as well. In fact, Dion Jordan actually had better production in college than Phillips did. In many ways, Jordan was better in college than Phillips is currently. He was more consistent too. Phillips didn’t have more than 3.5 sacks until this year. As I said, stats and draft profiles don’t tell the whole story, but just look at the film. They’re the same dude. The similarity is uncanny.
You will not see this comparison anywhere else, probably because of the fact that many analysts are quite enamoured with Phillips and you don’t compare a prospect you love with one of the biggest draft busts in the past ten years. That being said, I am confident that when one looks at the film, the stats and analysis of both players, people will realize that Dion Jordan and Jaelan Phillips are a match made in heaven.
Teams will be attracted to Jaelan Phillips because of his freakish athleticism, as they were with Jordan. Here’s the thing about the NFL: everybody is a freak athlete in the league. This is why prospects like Phillips and Jordan often don’t pan out in the NFL. Phillips won in college because he was simply a better athlete than a lot of the guys he was faced with. In the NFL, it is unlikely that this will be the case very often, if ever. Phillips will not get drafted quite as high as Jordan did. In fact, it is likely that he will be drafted around the middle of the first round. That being said, I’m not even sure that Phillips is a first-round pick if it’s me drafting.
No matter how much someone likes Jaelan Phillips, it is difficult to dismiss this pro comp. I suspect that their career trajectory will relatively similar as well. You heard it here first: Jaelan Phillips is Dion Jordan 2.0.