The New York Giants could be in love with Jaelan Phillips, but he comes with major concerns

new york giants, jaelan phillips

By all indications, the New York Giants feel strongly about this year’s pass rush class. While most believe that the 2021 NFL draft has a weak presence at edge rusher, the Giants have spent plenty of resources sending front office personnel to evaluate the options available with the 11th overall pick. In fact, they might be trying to eye a trade down, gaining value while also adding one of the best pass rushers on the board to their defense.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, general manager Dave Gettleman stated that he has considered trading down in the past, despite history telling us otherwise. He simply said that the value presented was not worth making a move, which forced him to stay put and make his original selection.

However, if the Giants really are enamored by one specific pass rusher in this class, there are two options that make the most sense. The first is Georgia stand-out Azeez Ojulari, who is a bit undersized but fits the Giants’ scheme to perfection as an outside linebacker. Alternatively, Miami’s Jaelan Phillips is also a stud who can play in the five tech and as a stand-up outside linebacker in the 3-4r base scheme.

Phillips is quite an incredible prospect but comes with serious baggage that could influence where he is drafted in just under a week. At 6’5″ and 258 pounds, Phillips is a former five-star recruit who has suffered a significant number of concussions, including ankle and wrist injuries. At one point, he accrued as many as four concussions in one season, which forced him to retire from football, but once he returned to health, he joined Miami and completely dominated in 2020. He posted 45 tackles, 15.5 for a loss, and eight sacks.

What would the New York Giants be getting in Phillips?

Phillips was not only one of the best edge rushers in college football, but minus his concussion issues, he might be a top 10 selection this year. With his versatility and ability to adapt to any scheme, he makes the most sense for the Giants, who love to get creative and utilize base packages and nickel formations. In the nickel, the Giants would use four down linemen, two linebackers, and five defensive backs. While a player like Ojulari might thrive as a stand-up pass rusher, Phillips can do both, making him more advantageous as an every-down pass rusher.

While I do believe he would be the ideal fit for the Giants’ scheme, especially with a reliance on man coverage next season after the acquisition of Adoree Jackson, the concussions represent a major concern. There is a belief that a few more concussions could result in him developing serious headaches, which could make his future in the NFL problematic. We’ve seen what concussions can do to players in the past, especially with sterling Shepherd, who was forced to miss months of football.

If the Giants evaluate Phillips and find that his medical checks out clean, he wouldn’t be as much of a risk at the NFL level, especially after learning better fundamentals and ways to avoid taking shots to the head. I do think he has the most upside of any pass rusher in this draft class, but ideally, he would be acquired in a trade-back scenario, not at 11, especially with elite prospects on the board with a minimal injury history.

New York Giants: Trade-down mock draft scenario that makes the defense dominant

new york giants, jaelan phillips

The New York Giants are preparing for an interesting 2021 NFL Draft. This year’s draft sees a plethora of talented quarterbacks set to be taken in the top ten. This run on quarterbacks could lead top-talented players at other positions to slip outside the top ten.

The Giants are sitting in a pretty spot at eleven overall. Realistically, the draft’s top non-quarterback prospects could be on the board when the Giants are on the clock. New York could stick and pick the best prospect available. Or, Dave Gettleman can elect to do what he has never done before: trade down.

According to Ian Rapoport, trading back is “already something they are internally considering.” Rapoport adds that the eleventh overall pick “will have real value.” What would it look like if the Giants traded down from eleven?

New York Giants trade-down scenario

MOCK TRADE:

  • NYG receives: 15th overall pick, third-round pick (96 overall), fourth-round pick (139)
  • NE receives: 11th overall pick

The New England Patriots are a team that has been rumored to be interested in trading up to draft a quarterback. In this mock scenario, assume that Mac Jones falls to eleven and New England is prepared to trade up in an effort to find their franchise quarterback. Multiple teams might be interested in drafting Jones, so New England makes the move to eleven to secure their quarterback before anyone else can.

The Giants move back four spots and gain an extra third-round pick and an extra fourth-round pick. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, this is fair and realistic compensation based on the parameters of two recent trades in reality.

The Mock Draft – What could those picks turn into?

Pick 15 – EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

The Giants move down four spots here and address a major position of need. New York’s defense almost has it all. They have some dominant hog mollies on their defensive line. A secondary full of shut-down corners and versatile safeties. But the second level is lacking pass-rush ability.

New York needs a big-time edge rusher, and in this mock draft, they found one. The Giants are reportedly interested in multiple edge rushers, including Azeez Ojulari, Kwity Paye, and Jaelan Phillips.

Most analysts believe Jaelan Phillips would be a top-ten pick if not for medical red flags. The Miami pass-rusher is absurdly talented and athletic. Phillips recorded 8 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his breakout 2020 season. He is projected to be drafted in the second half of the first round, but considering the Giants’ need for an EDGE, Phillips makes sense for them at fifteen overall. The Giants need an edge rusher, and if Jaelan Phillips is the top EDGE on their board, he would be a perfect fit for them in a trade-down scenario.

Pick 42 – iOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama

In this mock draft, the Giants went defense in round one. But New York has needs on the offensive side of the ball that must also be addressed. According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, “it will be a surprise if the Giants do not take an offensive lineman with one of their first three picks” because of their lack of depth on the interior.

Landon Dickerson is another player with medical red flags. He tore his ACL last season and has suffered other significant injuries in the past. However, when healthy, Dickerson is a dominant force on the interior of the offensive line.

Dickerson is a phenomenal run-blocker, earning Pro Football Focus’shighest run-blocking grade in the SEC last season with a grade of 92.8. Landon is also incredibly versatile, a trait Joe Judge values highly. While he might be listed as a center, Dickerson is an option for the Giants because he played multiple positions in college. Dickerson logged snaps at every position on the offensive line during his time at Alabama. He played the majority of his snaps at center, but did play over 200 snaps at right guard in 2019 and could make the transition back there in the pros.

This is a risky draft for the Giants. But it is more about the positions they are targeting. Jaelan Phillips and Landon Dickerson are both players with lengthy injury histories. However, Phillips could be swapped out with Azeez Ojulari or Kwity Paye, and Landon Dickerson could be swapped out with Quinn Meinerz, Creed Humphrey, or Wyatt Davis. Whoever the Giants rate highest at these two positions should be the selections at these picks.

Pick 76 – CB Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota

It never hurts to have depth in the secondary. Benjamin St. Juste out of Minnesota is a cornerback that fits well in New York’s defensive scheme. He is a tall (6 feet 3 inches) corner with the size and physicality to play outside. St-Juste is aggressive in press coverage, making him a good fit for what Patrick Graham likes to do defensively.

The Giants just signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a big contract. But Adoree’ is another player with an injury history. Additionally, cornerback is a position that is frequently injured. The Giants know all too well what can happen when you have a lack of depth in the secondary (see the 2020 matchup against Cleveland). Adding Benjamin St-Juste provides New York with quality cornerback depth in an outside cornerback that could develop into an eventual starter.

Pick 96 – iDL Tyler Shelvin, LSU

Again, this pick could be a number of interior defensive linemen. But Tyler Shelvin is a talented player in a weak defensive tackle class that the Giants have shown some interest in. Tyler Shelvin stated in a press conference that he has spoken with the Giants, per Usayd Koshul.

Shelvin is a solid nose tackle that could be New York’s Dalvin Tomlinson replacement. Tyler Shelvin is a phenomenal run-defender with great strength and power at the point of attack. The Giants would be finding a likely starter on their defensive line with this pick.

Pick 139 – WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas

At some point in this mock draft, the Giants should add another offensive weapon. In the fourth round, Jaelon Dardon out of North Texas provides great value for the Giants. Darden is looked at as a second-round talent to many draft analysts.

Jaelon Darden is a weapon with the ball in his hands. According to Pro Football Focus, Darden recorded the highest missed tackle rate per touch in 2020 amongst wide receivers at 31%. His missed tackle rate was higher than Kadarius Toney’s (30%). Darden is being slept on as a premier slot receiver. He recorded 16 touchdowns out of the slot (the most in college football) and 935 receiving yards (second-most) in 2020.

Sterling Shepard is set to be the Giants’ starting slot receiver in 2020. But, looking down the road, Darden might be the perfect player for New York to develop as their eventual slot receiver once Shepard’s contract expires.

Recap

The Giants turned their defense into a dominant unit in this mock draft. New York found a new starting edge rusher in round one, added depth at cornerback in round three, and secured their Dalvin Tomlinson replacement at nose tackle with their second third-round pick. The Giants did all this while improving their interior offensive line and adding an offensive playmaker to the mix. Overall, this is a trade-down mock draft scenario that Giants fans would be ecstatic about. The Giants addressed all of their biggest needs with talented players, making five selections in the first four rounds. Trading down is something the Giants need to consider in 2021 more than ever.

New York Giants well-represented, scouting Miami’s star-studded Pro Day

New York Giants, Gregory Rousseau

The 2021 NFL Draft is one month away. The New York Giants are preparing for an important draft to complete an impressive offseason that saw them knock the free agency period out of the park. New York signed multiple big-name free agents to address positions of need. But one position of need that the Giants did not address with a big splash in free agency was edge rusher.

The Giants signed a couple of low-cost, rotational edge rushers in free agency. Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson will contribute in 2021, but they are not dominant presences off the edge. It is possible that New York is still looking for that dominant edge rusher, though.

Today, the University of Miami had its Pro Day. It is officially Pro Day season, as all of the biggest schools in the country have been hosting Pro Days to show off their top draft prospects. Miami’s Pro Day drew a lot of attention today as they presented the NFL with their star pass-rushers. The New York Giants were in attendance as head coach Joe Judge stood next to Bill Belichick, keeping a close eye on Miami’s prospects. The assumption is that Joe Judge and the Giants made the trip to South Florida to get a closer look at Miami’s top pass rushers.

Miami’s edge rusher prospects

The top of the 2021 NFL Draft class features two impressive Miami edge rushers. Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau are both expected to be drafted in the first round of April’s draft. But outside of those top two edge rushers is another impressive Miami prospect. Quincy Roche is an intriguing name to keep an eye on outside of round one.

Gregory Rousseau

Gregory Rousseau had insane measurements at his Pro Day. He stands tall at 6 foot 6 and a half inches. But this lanky edge defender has some of the longest arms and biggest hands in the class. Rousseau’s hands measured in at a crazy 11 inches and his wingspan was 83 and 1/4 inches. These rare traits make Gregory an interesting prospect that has all the physical traits that could help mold him into a terrifying pass-rusher in the NFL.

Rousseau ran a solid 40-yard dash considering his size and weight. Gregory clocked in at 4.71/4.69s in the 40-yard dash. But it was his teammate, Jaelan Phillips, who really impressed scouts with his athletic testing.

Jaelan Phillips

Jaelan Phillips looked like an athletic freak at his Pro Day today. He ran a blazing fast 4.56s 40-yard-dash at 6 foot 5, 260 pounds. His agility drills were also impressive, as he posted a crazy 7.01s three-cone and 4.12s short shuttle. For reference, Nick Bosa’s 4.14s short shuttle tested in the 96th percentile. Phillips’s agility at his size is an extremely rare trait.

Phillips’s and Rousseau’s workouts are being compared as scouts, analysts, and fans alike debate who the better Miami edge rusher in this class is. Jaelan Phillips’s athletic testing was undeniably better than Rousseau’s and could propel Jaelan ahead of his teammate on draft boards. Many are disappointed by Gregory Rousseau’s testing numbers, which could cause him to slip in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Quincy Roche

Quincy Roche is Miami’s mid-round NFL Draft edge rusher that could be a solid value selection for the Giants to consider. Roche out-performed first-round prospect Gregory Rousseau in about every athletic test during today’s Pro Day. Quincy demonstrated surprisingly impressive athleticism and solid measurements as well. Quincy Roche ran an impressive 4.66s 40-yard dash today, just as fast as speedy Miami tight end Brevin Jordan.

Quincy Roche turned a lot of heads at his Pro Day. Roche, formerly considered to be a mid-round project, could rise up draft boards within the next month. Keep an eye on him as a potential target for the New York Giants as they look to bolster their edge rusher position.