Miami Hurricanes defensive end Jaelan Phillips was the first edge rusher selected in the 2021 NFL Draft when he was taken 18th overall by the Dolphins. Phillips is the first Hurricanes player taken in the first round by the Dolphins since offensive tackle Vernon Carey was taken 19th overall in 2004.
The last Miami Hurricanes drafted by the Dolphins were linebacker Olivier Vernon and running back Lamar Miller in 2004. Phillips was the second Dolphins draft pick on Thursday night. The Hurricanes Hard Rock Stadium co-tenant chose Alabama wide receiver Jaylan Waddle sixth overall.
Phillips had a breakout season with the Hurricanes in 2020 after transferring from UCLA in January 2019. In his first full season of college football after battling injuries with the Bruins, Phillips had 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks to help Miami finish 8-3 in 2020. Phillips was a star at DE for Miami in their 4-3 defense.
At UCLA, Phillips played outside linebacker in the 4-3. Phillips could be headed back to OLB in the Dolphins 3-4 defense. Phillips could replace Kyle Van Noy who was cut one year into a four-year, $51 million contract that included $30 million guaranteed and a $12 million signing bonus.
The Dolphins finished tied for ninth with the Green Bay Packers in 2020 with 41 sacks. If Phillips stays at DE, the Dolphins will have an elite rotation with Raekwon Davis and Christian Wilkins. Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel are the Dolphins OLBs. Phillips has the ability to be moved around on defense.
After some hectic years, Phillips will be able to set roots in Miami. After two years with the Hurricanes including sitting out the 2019 season, Phillips has become a part of the South Florida sports landscape. With what the Dolphins are building, Phillips can become a part of something special.
Miami Hurricanes fans who also go to Hard Rock Stadium on Sundays to cheer the Dolphins will be able to continue to watch Phillips develop. The season Phillips turned in with the Miami Hurricanes in 2020 was special. Hopefully, Phillips will continue to grow and become the elite player expected of him coming out of high school.