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Jaelan Phillips Drafted 18th Overall by the Miami Dolphins

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The Athletic EDGE Defender was a First Round Selection despite an Injury History

Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

He’s staying home in South Florida.

Miami EDGE Defender, Jaelan Phillips, became the first Miami Hurricane drafted when the Miami Dolphins selected him with the 18th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Phillips becomes just the third defender selected in the first round since 2008 (Artie Burns in 2016; Kenny Phillips in 2008). The last first round Cane on the front seven? Linebacker, Jon Beason, in 2007. He is also the first Cane defensive lineman drafted in the first round since DT, Vince Wilfork, in 2004, and first defensive end in the first round since Jerome McDougle in 2003.

Phillips put his name on the map this past fall after an injury-riddled commencement to his college career that resulted in a temporary medical retirement at UCLA. Phillips transferred to the U and had a meteoric rise in 2020 as he played in 10 games where he tallied 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss (team-best), 8 sacks (team-best), 1 INT, which earned him an 86.6 grade on his way to 18 run stops and 29 QB hurries, according to PFF (he racked up all of his sacks, as well as 35 QB pressures, during the final seven games). The production led to accolades as the 6-5 pass rusher earned an All-ACC Second Team selection, was a Bednarik Award semifinalist, and three publications deemed him an All-American (one first team, two second team). Phillips subsequently dominated the Pro Day in Coral Gables.

The strong performances made Phillips one of the first defensive players off the board on Thursday Night as he hopes to make an immediate impact on the defensive front close to home. He is the earliest Cane defensive first round pick since Antrel Rolle in 2005 (8th overall). And coach Manny Diaz was clamoring for the Fins to make the local pick as they were on the clock, based on the above embedded tweet.

He’ll join a defensive front featuring Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins as the Dolphins also selected Jaylen Waddle with the sixth overall pick. Good news for Canes’ fans as he stays local.

Phillips now can exhale and root for his teammates, Gregory Rousseau, Quincy Roche, Brevin Jordan, and Jose Borregales as they wait to have their name called.