Name: Jaelan Phillips
NFL Grade: 6.37 (will be starter in first two seasons)
Stats: The redshirt junior from Miami has had an unorthodox road to the NFL Draft, where he's now considered one of the top pass-rushing prospects coming out of his lone season in Miami. Phillips was a top recruit coming out of high school, attending Redlands East Valley High in California before committing to UCLA. His freshman year, he made four starts and appeared in seven games, where he tallied 3.5 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss and along with teammate Darnay Holmes, became the first pair of true freshmen to start a season opener.
The following season, he played in only four games, starting two, before an injury forced his season to end early. According to NFL.com, he was hit by a car while on his scooter and suffered a broken wrist. He also suffered a concussion that year before UCLA announced Phillips was retiring from football. Instead, Phillips got healthy and transferred to Miami, sitting out in 2019 due to NCAA regulations.
In 2020, as a redshirt junior, Phillips ranked among the team leaders in nearly every defensive category, according to the Hurricanes' website. He was an All-American First-Team selection by AFCA and Second-Team selection by FWAA and the Associated Press. Phillips started all 10 games for the Hurricanes last season, finishing with 45 total tackles, 15.5 for loss and 8.0 sacks. The first solo sack of his Miami career came against Clemson, in fact. Phillips also nabbed one interception and had three pass breakups over the course of the year.
Comments: Phillips has all the physicality and size you need at the outside linebacker position, which is exactly where the Bucs would use him. Not only is his ability to rush the passer added by his length and motor, but with a little more conditioning and build up, he could be a stout run defender too, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
"Edge defender with plus physical attributes and a motor that keeps him working and attacking throughout the rep," writes Zierlein. "Phillips might have the combination of length and athleticism that would allow teams to look at him with a hand on the ground or standing depending on his weight. Adding play strength will be important so that he can stack it up when setting the edge as a run defender in the league. He's a slippery-limbed pass rusher with good first-step quickness, which bodes well for his future rush success if he gets better with his hands and learns a go-to counter. He has a shot at becoming a solid future starter along the edge if his medicals pan out."
With his size and play style, Phillips seems to be more in the vein of Jason Pierre-Paul than Shaq Barrett but would be an excellent complement to either. He'd solidify an edge-rushing rotation where the Bucs need a little more depth to ensure they can keep up with the pressure and aggressiveness they've now become notiorious for.