Miami Hurricanes defensive end Jaelan Phillips was named the best defensive player by far in the 2021 NFL Draft by NBC Sports Sunday Night Football and Pro Football Focus analyst Cris Collinsworth. Phillips is projected as the 21st player on the board by the NFL Mock Draft database.
Jaelan Phillips is one spot behind his former Miami teammate, Greg Rousseau, on the NFL Mock Draft database draft board which is a consensus of multiple NFL Mock Drafts. Phillips and Rousseau never played together in a game with Miami but shared the Greentree Practice Fields during the 2019 season.
Phillips earned second-team All-American in 2020 and was preceded with that honor by Rousseau in 2019. In his only season with Miami in 2019, Phillips had 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and three pass breakups. Rousseau exceeded Phillips’ numbers in 2019 with 54 tackles, 19.5 TFLs and 15.5 sacks.
Phillips had a far better performance at the combine, passing Rousseau in nearly every category. Rousseau is the seventh-ranked defensive player and second-ranked defensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft per the NFL Mock Draft Database. Phillips is the eighth-ranked defensive player and third-ranked DL in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Phillips was the top-ranked high school player in the Class of 2017 who originally signed with UCLA before transferring to Miami in January 2019. Rousseau was a three-star signee with Miami in 2018. Phillips and Rousseau are projected to be the first pair from Miami to be first-round selections since 2015.
Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers was selected ninth in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and wide receiver Philip Dorsett was drafted 29th by the Indianapolis Colts. Miami defensive end Quincy Roche is also expected to be selected on Day three of the 2021 NFL Draft in the third round.
Phillips and Rousseau could be the highest-drafted players from Miami since Flowers. Tight-end David Njoku was selected 29th overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft. Cornerback Artie Burns was taken 25th overall in 2016 as the only first-round picks from Miami since Flowers.