The 2021 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and the Jaguars will have a large majority of the draft capital, including two first round draft picks and the first overall pick in the draft.
New Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer has spoken extensively about the need to build through the defensive line, and expects the defensive line to be, “one of the strengths” of the Jaguars team (via Kassidy Hill, SI Jaguars). This makes me think that they’re not done addressing the defensive line, and that it could be a position of interest at pick 25 in this years’ draft.
Among the potential edge defenders that will be there at 25 could be a pair of Miami Hurricanes that bring a lot to the table. Jaelan Phillips bursted onto the scene after a dominant 2020 where he notched eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Gregory Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, but played in 2019 as a redshirt freshman and had 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. Both could both hear their names called on Day One of the NFL Draft, and one of them could potentially be headed to Duval. The question is, which player is a better fit? For that, we head to the film room!
Both Phillips and Rousseau are impressive athletes with massive frames. Phillips is listed by the University of Miami website at 6’5, 266 pounds, but he has a large frame with long arms as well. Rousseau is listed on their website as 6’6, 251, and on film Rousseau has a slightly more slender frame than Phillips, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rousseau had the larger wingspan and arm length. Both are a great fit for Jacksonville as far as physical tools, so for that I’ll say it’s a push.
Play vs. Run
Rousseau is a very good run defender. He plays disciplined, and uses his length to stack and shed defenders fairly well considering his slender frame. Rousseau also has a good first step that he uses to get on the inside of blockers and make plays in the backfield. This was evident with his 19.5 tackles for loss in the 2019-2020 season. Phillips is also pretty good against the run, but often I saw Phillips run himself out of the play against the run, and go too far into the backfield. For that, I’d say Rousseau has the edge.
Play vs. Pass
This is where the money is made, and Phillips has a bevy of moves he uses on the edge and interior to set up his pass rush. He uses power with an effective bull rush, but also has great technique with his hands. He uses the cross chop move effectively, and has a great swim move.
There are a handful of fun edge prospects this year, but my favorite may be Jaelan Phillips. Kid has ALL the tools - size, burst, length, power, lateral quickness. I love the way he uses multiple effective pass-rush moves with plenty of pop in his hands. Easy 1st-rounder for me pic.twitter.com/TXObQsjf6e— Mike Alessandrini (@AFootballMike) March 18, 2021
Rousseau is still learning about the finer techniques of pass rush. A former safety in high school, Rousseau still leans on length and motor for his pass rush on the edge. He does have a fairly good chop move he uses on the interior, but I wish he would just use that move more on the edge.
Gregory Rousseau's FSU tape is nsfw, IOL had no answer for him.pic.twitter.com/b0Pb3GHoI4— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 21, 2020
Phillips has a more developed skill set when it comes to pass rush, so for that I give the edge to Phillips.
Both Phillips and Rousseau lined up with their hand in the dirt, standing up, and along the interior so for this one it’ll be a push
I believe that both Rousseau and Phillips are both very talented pass rushers who win in somewhat similar ways. Rousseau might be the more talented player physically, Phillips is more pro-ready at this time. Rousseau is still raw, and learning the technical aspects of pass rushing and hand usage. Once he gets that down, he’ll be even better than where he is now. With all that being said, if Phillips is there at 25 for Jacksonville I don’t think they can afford to pass up on him. Phillips is pro-ready now, with the pass rush chops to help a Jaguars team that struggled there last year. All of the Jaguars free agency moves on the defensive line leaned more towards run stopping, so grabbing another EDGE guy to give the team some juice in passing situations is never a bad thing. Rousseau will be great in a few years, but Phillips is great right now.