Former Hurricanes edge rusher Jaelan Phillips is staying in Miami after being drafted by the Dolphins with the No. 18 overall pick Thursday night.
He becomes the first ‘Cane drafted in the first round since tight end David Njoku went to the Browns with the No. 29 pick in 2017.
Phillips only played one year at Miami, but it was a fantastic one. He was a second-team All-American last year, ranking among the top 15 in the country in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (15 ½) as one of the leaders of the Hurricanes’ defense. It was the kind of production college football fans had been expecting for a long time.
Phillips was the No. 1 recruit in the nation in 2017 when he signed with UCLA. He played well in spurts but couldn’t stay healthy between an ankle injury, a scooter accident and concussions that finally forced him to medically retire in 2018. That injury history sparked legitimate questions about his health — one of the only downsides in scouting reports.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper viewed Phillips as the top pass rusher in the draft. He helped himself greatly at his pro day, where his 36-inch vertical and 4.56-second 40-yard dash were both impressive for a defensive lineman. Phillips had been seen as a potential Bucs target before then but moved out of Tampa Bay’s reach thanks in part to that performance.
Phillips is one of three Miami edge rushers expected to be drafted this weekend. Gregory Rousseau is a potential first-round pick, despite opting out last season because of coronavirus concerns. Quincy Roche is a Day 3 prospect.
His selection marks the fifth consecutive year that a defensive end from Miami has been drafted.
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