1. NY Jets draft target: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Sticking with the pass-rush, Miami’s Jaelan Phillips is my personal favorite edge rusher in this class. Unfortunately, he has about as many red flags as you could have as a prospect — at least from an injury standpoint.
A five-star recruit and the No. 1 player at his position coming out of high school, Phillips originally enrolled at UCLA where he was viewed as their next star pass-rusher. But injuries prevented him from ever coming close to reaching his potential.
He missed six games in his freshman season due to an ankle sprain and missed eight the following year as a result of a broken wrist (suffered in a moped accident) and concussions.
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It’s that latter injury that once had UCLA doctors suggest that he never play football again. Phillips was ultimately cleared to return, but he decided to transfer to Miami for a fresh start.
It was at Miami that he finally reminded the college football world just how talented he is. Phillips led the team with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss all in just 10 games and was named second-team All-ACC.
He’s a twitchy athlete with a nose for the football and probably the most talented pass-rusher in this class. If it wasn’t for the injury concerns, he’d probably be a top-10 pick. Instead, he’s expected to be selected somewhere toward the back half of the first round.
If the medicals check out and the Jets miss out on their top targets, they could do a lot worse than adding a pass-rusher of Phillips’ talent to their defensive front.
A defensive front that would quickly become one of the most talented in the entire NFL.