The Unexpected Role of Jaelan Phillips

When the Miami Dolphins released linebacker Kyle Van Noy during the offseason, everyone speculated that emerging rookie Andrew Van Ginkle would replace him. A little over a month later, Miami drafted edge rusher Jaelan Phillips with the 18th overall pick. Phillips was speculated to be the opposite rusher from Emmanuel Ogbah and finally give Miami the one-two punch they have been searching for. This may not be the case, and it could be Jaelan Phillips who Miami turns to to replace Van Noy, here is why.

Athletically Gifted

It is well known that Phillips was one of the most athletically gifted players in this years draft, his biggest question mark was his injury history. Standing at 6’5” and weighing 260 pounds, Phillips ran a 4.56 forty yard dash, had a 10-5 broad jump, 21 reps of 225 pounds, to go along with a 36 inch vertical jump during his pro day. Those are eye-popping numbers that showed NFL teams he is ready to make the jump.

Not only did Phillips put up those numbers, but he has only gotten in better shape since arriving in Miami. Thanks you a recently posted Instagram Story, fans saw not only how good of a shape he is in, but also compared his stature to last year.

A fan shows everyone a side by side comparison physically from a 18 month span.

Phillips has defiantly bulked up to keep his production the same if not more compared to college, but to potentially become more of run defender. The Miami Dolphins could be asking Phillips to set the edge during run plays (hence the bulk) which is what Van Noy was asked to do a ton last season.

Not only has Phillips bulked up, but he is also insanely fast for his size running that 4.56 forty yard dash during his pro day. Much like Van Noy last season, Miami could expect Philips to drop back into the hook to curl zone or the flat zone. This is very intriguing because as Dolphin fans last season we saw Van Noy play very lackluster in coverage last season. Miami has had Phillips in coverage during OTA’s as he came down with an interception against third string quarterback Reid Sinnett.


Prior to attending the University of Miami, Phillips was playing at UCLA. At Miami his hand was in the dirt a majority of the time, but at UCLA this was the complete opposite. At UCLA, Phillips was asking to be a standing edge player which is what the Dolphins asked Van Noy to be last season. He has the speed to exceed at position and as you can see in the clip, Phillips was a very disciplined player when asked to be a standing edge player. Instead of biting on the handoff (which Van Noy did at times last season) Phillips kept the edge set and played his role which allowed him to read the read option and get a tackle for a loss.

Jaelan Phillips sets and plays the edge very well on a read option against Cincinnati

Phillips has shown the ability to play both standing up and with his hand in the dirt is one of his better traits as we all know Head Coach Brain Flores loves versatility. Even though we never saw Van Noy with his hand in the dirt last season, we could potentially see Phillips put his hand in the dirt and drop back in coverage or set the edge rather than being just a pass rusher. Even though Miami may have other players for our highly anticipated first round pick, do not be surprised if Phillips is asked to replace last years captain.

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