Buyer Beware

April 16th, 2021

Miami DE Jaelan Phillips.

Hey, you know Joe. There isn’t a decent college edge rusher Joe doesn’t fantasize wearing pewter and red. The more the merrier.

One pass rusher from the Sunshine State is getting a lot of run as possibly on the board when the Bucs select at No. 32. But he spooks the hell out of Joe. That would be Miami’s Jaelan Phillips.

Why is Joe spooked? Phillips already missed a full season, in part, because of concussions. Jenna Laine of ESPN has the details.

Jaelan Phillips, OLB, Miami. Once regarded as the No. 3 overall high school prospect in the nation in the 2017 ESPN 300 rankings, Phillips gave up football while at UCLA in 2018 due to concussions. He also had a severely broken wrist from a moped accident and multiple ankle injuries.

But he transferred to Miami, sat out in 2019 to regain his strength (he lost 20 pounds away from football) and last season, he recorded 8.0 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss — second in the ACC. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he ran a blazing 4.56 at his pro day (he said he’s been running in the 4.4s in training, but even a 4.56 is extremely rare for a player his size) and posted a 36-inch vertical, along with a 4.12 shuttle. He’s got great arm length and good bend. He could be available at the bottom of the first or top of the second.

Joe gets a really bad vibe from this guy, no matter what kind of numbers he collected against the soft ACC.

In his draft guide “The Beast,” Dane Brugler of The Athletic is rather high on Phillips, ranking him the No. 3 edge rusher. But Brugler, too, wonders about Phillips’ health.

STRENGTHS: Smooth, agile footed athlete and doesn’t play stiff…gets upfield quickly, extending and attacking the point of attack…flashes the power to discard blockers from his lane…moldable, NFL-level frame…uses a physical swipe to wipe out the blocker’s outside hands, wrapping the corner with flexible ankles…creates movement with his speed-to-power moves, quickly shifting gears into overdrive to catch blockers off balance…shows a nose for the ball with his read/react skills and won’t take himself out of plays…stacks blocks and mirrors at the line…deftly side-steps blockers to blow up run plays…consistently makes plays from the backside due to his relentless hustle, making plays most pass rushers won’t…put together an impressive 2020 campaign, leading Miami in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (8.0).

SUMMARY: A one-year starter at Miami, Phillips lined up at left defensive end in head coach Manny Diaz’s scheme, standing up and rushing with his hand on the ground. After medically retiring following his third concussion in college, he transferred from UCLA to Miami and reminded the football world why he was the No. 1 recruit in the 2017 class, leading the Hurricanes with 15.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks (both second in ACC). With his natural twitch, Phillips is very smooth in his upfield attack and redirect, using his hands/reach as weapons and rushing with his curls on fire. His eyes stay locked on the ball and allow him to see through blockers, making him equally productive vs. the run and the pass. Overall, Phillips has first-round talent with his body type, twitchy athleticism and nose for the football, but the medical feedback will ultimately decide his NFL Draft grade. He projects as a high-energy rusher similar to Ryan Kerrigan when healthy.

Joe’s good friend Emory Hunt, the Czar of the Playbook, in his Football Gameplan Draft Guide (only $10!), is very bullish on Phillips as he has the Cane as his No. 1 edge rusher.


– Plays the POA game very well. Eyes and hands are constantly in unison, and it allows him to be a very strong player at the LOS.
– Shows a variety of pass rushing moves to go along with the burst he has off the ball. The jump he made in that area of his game this season was impressive.
– He’s good on both ends of defense. He plays the run with the same effort and intensity he does with the passing game.
– Good athleticism, COD skills and strong in pursuit.

Areas of Improvement:

– Will get caught guessing some times and get himself out of position. Whether that’s peeking inside or jumping outside to anticipate a Jet sweep, he’ll end up giving up a big play because of the wrong guess.
– You wonder if what we saw this year was an aberration or a sign of more to come. Because he was a completely different player at UCLA than he was this season at Miami.

Joe is completely spooked about this guy’s brittleness (is that a word?). If he already sat out a year because of concussions (plural), how long before he gets his bell rung in the NFL and misses games or a season, or is gone for good?

And he’s had his ankles already worked on? Bad wheels are not the friend of NFL players.

Researching this Phillips gave Joe flashbacks to guitar-strummin,’ pistol-totin’ Da’Quan Bowers, a beast of an ACC pass rusher who was damaged goods coming out of Clemson.

Buyer beware, man.

33 Responses to “Buyer Beware”

  1. Mike Says:

    Would prefer his teammate Rousseau.

  2. Casual Observer Says:

    I like Rousseau as well. A solid pick.

  3. R.O. Says:

    Rousseau at 32 is an extreme reach. Phillips at 32 or top of the 2nd with a trade back is value.

  4. Baby Grace Says:

    I don’t know what team doctors will say about his concussion problems, but if the doctors say he is good to go there is absolutely, positively no way he makes it to us. Also, if he has ankle issues it doesn’t show in his play. Someone will draft him early and take a chance because edge rushers are so highly desired. He is the best pass rusher by far in the draft and someone will take the risk even if the medicals are questionable.

  5. Jody Says:

    Jody, like Joe feels the exact same way!

  6. SlyPirate Says:

    Baby Grace is right … If the doctor’s say Phillips is good to go, he goes earlier than 32.

    If that’s the case, should the Bucs move up to get him? Having a successor for JPP would be a good move if the price is right.

  7. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    In this league right now concussion problems is a major setback for both the NFL, players and owners. There will be future lawsuits and settlements. Not sure if he even gets drafted in the first round.

  8. SB~LV Says:

    I agree… not in the 1st round and simply NOT enough quality tape, and off course the injury and concussion history… BIG FAT NOPE and I am a ‘Cane

  9. SOEbuc Says:

    Trade down and get my boy Joe Tryon.

  10. Mitch Says:

    I didn’t know he sat out a year due to brain injuries. Something like that on the medical jacket is more worrisome than a blown knee or shoulder. I would pass.

    If the bus dont get Azeez in the first trade back and draft PATRICK JONES II. He is a DAWG. He is just as big as JPP and almost as athletic. He is just a little raw in his pass move tool kit. He even had the most All-ACC lineman votes for best lineman. That is more than Jaelen Phillips, Greg Rousseau, Basham, and Quincy Roche. Check him out.

  11. Steven007 Says:

    Mitch, I checked out Pat Jones and he does seem like a player. What I like too is he’s had consistent sack production. Nearly had 10 sacks the last two seasons. Definitely worth a closer look.

  12. Ben green Says:

    Draft a qb and tell brady you think he’s slipping. We did that in NE and the results were 3 superbowls in four years. He needs someone to doubt him. Brady went through a self confidence thingy until bill drafted his replacement. The resulting run was his finest accomplishment. Comeback win over the legion of boom, superbowl record for passing yards against phili, and one for the history books over atlanta.

  13. rrsrq Says:

    As a guy who watched the U regularly, he has a motor and has that Miami swag that they used to bring, I have no problem saying, if he falls, go get him. He!!, we have a guy with only a few fingers on one hand, was in an auto accident and broke his neck, knee surgeries and all – don’t let hi fall to the second round Jason

  14. windbaggery Says:

    I wouldn’t draft a guy with concussion history. A few more and it becomes early retirement time. Nope.

  15. rrsrq Says:

    @Mitch, Greg R sat out. Quincy and Jalen had to share the wealth. But i would not be mad at Jones II (even tough we have a Jones II on offense)

  16. Ash Says:

    I dont think phillips drops to 32 but if he does id take him in a heartbeat

  17. lambeau Says:

    Doctors can see the glass half empty or half full; the doctors at UCLA wouldn’t let him on the field. So he found a different medical staff.

  18. WillieG Says:

    Sounds like an awesome replacement for Noah Spence.

  19. Mitch Says:

    @ Steve I think he will be the best value pick of the second round this year.

    @rrsrq – My fault about Greg! I meant to type Rashad Weaver. I just had the U on the brain. The only thing I would point out is that Jones II had to share the wealth with Weaver who was also voted to the first-team.

  20. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Last time I saw the hurricanes defense (yes I’m aware Rousseau wasn’t playing) Javonte Williams and Michael Carter both rushed for 300 yards, and set an NCAA record. I saw Phillips get rag dolled by real men. Both Miami and FSU have turned in to absolute clown schools with clown players. Not interested in anyone from those two soft, trash bin universities

  21. Bobby M. Says:

    Sounds like Daquan Bowers all over again….maybe you take him in 3-4 rds

  22. Tom S. Says:

    High risk/reward, the issue is that if you are getting several concussions in the PAC 12 you are almost certain to be getting them playing against grown men in the NFC South. On the other hand Ernie Sims had a number of concussions at FSU and managed a 8 year career without too many problems there.

  23. Magicbuc Says:

    LOL…Joe trying to drop Phillips stock to 32 for us!!! Love it!

  24. windbaggery Says:

    I can’t believe people would cheer drafting a guy with 3 concussions in round 1. That’s like the literal definition of insanity. He will slide because of the head injuries, so pick him in round 3 if he lasts.

  25. Joe in Michigan Says:

    A young Ryan Kerrigan? Sign me up for that! I love it when people say there’s NO WAY a draft prospect won’t make it to the Bucs. Remember when there was NO WAY that Wirfs would last that long? Remember when there was NO WAY that OJ Howard would make it to the Bucs pick?

  26. firethecannons Says:

    Joes right–disaster waiting to happen

  27. kaimaru Says:


    20 games isn’t enough tape?

  28. Greg Says:

    Pass… Obviously a nice talent but too many potential liabilities for the Bucs to go first round on. With the roll they are on they need to make solid choices for the near term and beyond due to their unique position.

  29. TheBradyBunch Says:

    I read about him early on in the draft process. I really hope the Bucs don’t even consider this for a second. He has huge red flags and probably should go no higher than the fourth round regardless of his natural talent. Bucs need more guys like Devin White that are healthy and love the game. Something tells me this is not the type of player Licht is interested in drafting.

  30. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Magic Buc – the dude sat out a year because of brain injuries. Any GM that takes him in the first round should probably be fired on the spot. Trust me Joe’s concerns are real and I have no doubt this is not at all an attempt to have him slide in the draft. I am sure Licht will pass if he is still on the board at 32.

  31. David Says:

    Pass. Between weak ankles and concussions… He is not going to have much of a career.
    There are plenty of other options

  32. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Joe Tryon is a much safer prospect. He’s a beast who could be unleashed by learning from JPP, Shaq, and Kacy Rodgers.

  33. cover deuce Says:

    Someone is gonna take a chance on this kids raw talent – and they’re going to hit it big if he can take care of his body. I really like him and I’d take him at 32 if he’s there.