1. NY Jets draft target: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Jaelan Phillips is the most talented pass-rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft class — and one of my personal favorite prospects. If tape and traits were the only thing prospects were drafted on, Phillips probably wouldn’t make it outside the top-10.
But for as many great things as there are to love about Phillips’ game, there are just as many red flags.
Phillips was a five-star defensive end recruit and the No. 1 ranked player at his position coming out of high school. Unfortunately, a string of awful injury luck forced him to be a complete bust at UCLA and nearly cost him his football career.
The California native missed six games in his freshman season due to a high-ankle sprain, suffered a major wrist injury in his sophomore season after an automobile accident, and was diagnosed with three concussions in two years at UCLA.
In fact, UCLA doctors advised him to retire from football following the 2018 season citing concussions as the primary reason. But after finally being medically clear, Phillips transferred to Miami where he went on to dominate in 2020.
Phillips flashed the potential he once showed as a five-star recruit earning second-team All ACC honors while leading the team in tackles and tackles or loss.
The 21-year-old blends raw power with twitchy athleticism that gives him the highest upside of any edge rusher in this class. And despite missing considerable time in college, he’s a technically sound pass-rusher whose relentless motor gives him high upside as a run defender as well.
If the medicals check out, Phillips could develop into a perennial All-Pro at his position. But with so many injury concerns, it’s hard to see a team taking a chance on him in the top-20 picks — especially when you’re dealing with concussions.
No player in this class has as large of a gap between their potential ceiling and floor as Jaelan Phillips. He’s the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect.