Packers.com consulted more than a dozen mock drafts from reputable national outlets and compiled a list of players most frequently mocked as draft selections in the bottom third of the first round (picks 20-32).
Between now and draft day, when the Packers are slated to select at No. 29 overall, those players will be profiled with thumbnail sketches in a new series entitled “Draft Digest.”
Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
Key stats: Posted eight sacks, including five over a span of two weeks, among 15½ tackles for loss in 2020, his lone season at Miami.
College honors: Chosen second-team All-America by The Associated Press last season, as well as second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference.
Background: Phillips began his college career at UCLA and saw his playing time limited due to several injuries (ankle, wrist, concussions; some caused by an off-field moped accident). He recorded 4½ sacks over two years and 11 games (six starts) for the Bruins before multiple concussions forced him to step away from the game. Upon deciding to continue playing, he transferred to Miami, sat out 2019 due to transfer rules, and had a dynamite 2020. Taking advantage of additional playing time due to first-round prospect Gregory Rousseau opting out of Miami’s season, Phillips posted eight sacks in 10 starts before sitting out the Hurricanes’ bowl game to prepare for the draft. At Miami’s pro day, he clocked a 4.56-second time in the 40, blazing fast for a player his size, and he told reporters he’s run in the 4.4s before. He also bench-pressed 21 reps at 225 pounds.
Potential fit with Packers: It’s clear who Green Bay’s top three edge defenders will be for 2021 – Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, plus Rashan Gary – but after that it’s wide open, and defensive coaches would never complain about having too many pass rushers. It’s a premier position and the Packers often have more than two edge rushers on the field in passing situations, something new defensive coordinator Joe Barry is likely to continue following the restructured contract that kept Preston Smith around. In Green Bay, Phillips would have an opportunity to learn from established veteran stars while acclimating to the pro game after essentially one full college season. How much NFL teams will hold his medical history against him on their draft boards is a valid question. An impressive pro day certainly helped his cause.