NFL Analyst Reveals Draft Prospect Who’s Like Dolphins’ Jaelan Phillips

Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins
NFL Analysis Network

In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected pass rusher Jaelan Phillips out of Miami (FL). The No. 18th overall pick didn’t have to move far to play in the pros and made an immediate impact with the Dolphins.

As a rookie, Phillips racked up 43 total tackles and 8.5 sacks with nine tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. As a sophomore, he had 61 total tackles and 7.0 sacks with eight tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hits.

In year 3, Phillips was having a true coming out party as he was on pace to shatter all his previous highs. Through eight games, he had already recorded 43 total tackles with 6.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits.

NFL News & Rumors: Laiatu Latu, Jaelan Phillips, 2024 NFL Draft, Miami Dolphins Updates

Unfortunately, he injured his Achilles in the second half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, which has cut many seasons short recently with serious injuries. It was a huge blow to the Dolphins’ pass rush and defense overall as Phillips was emerging as one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL.

Finding players as talented as Phillips is certainly not easy. Pass-rushers are at a premium around the league and if a team is lucky enough to find one, they normally hold onto them for as long as they can.

For teams looking to address their pass rush in the 2024 NFL Draft, who could emerge as the next standout as Phillips has with the Dolphins? In the opinion of ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., the answer is Laiatu Latu out of UCLA.

“Both are pure pass-rushers, both wore No. 15 in college and both retired from the sport for a stretch. Phillips, of course, thrived once he landed at Miami (transferring from UCLA, Latu’s current school), and Latu was at Washington before transferring last year. They each understand leverage, and they’re super bendy and quick. They’re both around 6-foot-5, 260 pounds. And Latu is likely to land in Round 1 like Phillips did in 2021,” said Kiper.

NFL News & Rumors: Laiatu Latu, Jaelan Phillips, 2024 NFL Draft, Miami Dolphins Updates

Latu could be the first defensive player off the board. Depending on how things shake out at the top of the draft, he has a chance to land inside the top five and will very likely be a top-10 pick.

The lofty draft status has certainly been earned. Latu had 21.5 tackles for loss in 2023, along with 13 sacks for the Bruins. He was a terror in two seasons at UCLA after transferring from Washington, totaling 34 tackles for loss and 23.5 sacks in 25 games.

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