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Potential Bucs draft target Jaelan Phillips stars at Miami’s pro day

The former No. 1 overall recruit had a blazing 40-yard dash ... and still thought he could have done better.
NFL draft prospect Jaelan Phillips, an edge rusher, ran an unofficial 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the Miami Hurricanes' pro day.
NFL draft prospect Jaelan Phillips, an edge rusher, ran an unofficial 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the Miami Hurricanes' pro day. [ TIM BROGDON | Courtesy of Miami Athletics ]
Published Mar. 29
Updated Mar. 30

NFL draft Twitter was buzzing briefly Monday when the ACC Network reported Jaelan Phillips’ blazing 40-yard dash time: an unofficial 4.46 seconds, which would have been one of the fastest ever by a defensive lineman.

Alas, it was too good to be true. Phillips only ran a 4.56 — a time that would have been the fastest for defensive linemen at last year’s scouting combine.

“I’m faster than that,” said Phillips, who has been in touch with the Bucs during the draft process. “I’m still happy with the time, no doubt, but I ran 4.4s in training.”

Related: Having kept team together, Bucs can address depth in NFL draft

At worst, Phillips’ blazing time was competitive with what two of the draft’s other top edge rushers posted at their pro days: Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari was clocked at 4.6 seconds, and Michigan’s Kwity Paye was timed at 4.52.

At best, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound edge rusher proved the athleticism that could make him a first-rounder and a potential Bucs target with the No. 32 overall pick. He bolstered that with a personal-best 36-inch vertical leap that would have been tied as the tops among defensive linemen at last year’s combine.

Jaelan Phillips had a sensational 2020 season at Miami.
Jaelan Phillips had a sensational 2020 season at Miami. [ MATT GENTRY | THE ROANOKE TIMES | (AP Photo / MATT GENRTY, The Roanoke Times, Pool) ]

“I think I’m the No. 1 defensive end (in the draft),” said Phillips, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in 2017. “And I think that my performance today definitely solidified my ranking in a lot of people’s eyes.”

It’s an opportunity that wouldn’t have happened without Miami.

Phillips medically retired from UCLA and took time off before pursuing a fresh start. He found one with the Hurricanes, where he blossomed into a second-team All-American with eight sacks in 10 games last fall.

Related: Florida’s early 2021 college football viewing guide

“UM gave me a second chance,” Phillips said. “Not a lot of people get second chances in life. So for me, I’m eternally grateful for everybody here.

“It’s all about The U, and I’ll be a ‘Cane for life.”

Gregory Rousseau returns

Miami's Gregory Rousseau was one of the nation's top pass rushers in 2019.
Miami's Gregory Rousseau was one of the nation's top pass rushers in 2019. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | Associated Press (2019) ]

Miami’s pro day also marked the return of defensive end Gregory Rousseau, who opted out last season. The 6-foot-7, 266-pound Rousseau put up solid numbers, including an unofficial 4.62-second 40-yard dash and 30-inch vertical leap.

“It was awesome,” Rousseau said. “It’s a blessing to be back here at my school, and also it was a blessing to be able to go out there and compete with Jaelan and Quincy (Roche) one last time.”

Rousseau, who ranked second nationally with 15½ sacks in 2019, is considered one of the draft’s top defensive ends and a first-round talent who probably won’t be available when the Bucs pick. The ACC Network’s telecast compared him to Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul.

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