The Steelers lost Bud Dupree this offseason. It certainly was a tough pill to swallow to see Dupree leave the Steel City after finally reaching the peak of his development. However, the Steelers are rightfully excited about the prospects of Alex Highsmith after his phenomenal rookie season. Still, the Steelers are showing lots of interest in edge rushers this draft season. Miami’s star pass rusher Jaelan Phillips is no exception to this rule.
A former five-star and UCLA player, Phillips broke out onto the scene after Gregory Rousseau’s opt-out prior to the 2020 season. While Phillips has struggled with injuries and concussions in the past, his athletic traits were on clear display. After Tuesday, it is likely that Phillips is a first-round pick. As for his on-the-field play, Phillips believes he is a versatile player.
“You know, I think I’m super versatile,” Phillips said. “I can beat you with speed off the edge, I can beat you with power, I can beat you with finesse on the inside. For me, it’s just about developing those moves and having my go-to stuff.”
Even from there, however, Phillips does believe his athletic tools come with upside. His work is only starting, and he believes he is a raw prospect.
“I feel like I’m still a very raw prospect,” Phillips said. “I haven’t had too much formal training in terms of pass rushing. So, I’m looking forward to the next level where I can pick guys’ brains and talk to all these legendary coaches.”
As for one of those guys and elite edge rushers that he watches, Phillips noted Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt was a guy that he has seen plenty of on tape.
“T.J Watt’s a guy that, especially with our run technique, backdoors tackles a lot and is able to create a lot of pressure and TFLs,” Phillips said. “He and his brother (J.J. Watt) are people that I’ve watched for a while.”
Phillips has met with the Steelers a couple of times. He noted that he had met with the Steelers just “10-20 minutes” prior to his press conference. On top of that, Phillips had a zoom meeting with Head Coach Mike Tomlin.
“I’ve talked with Tomlin,” Phillips said. “I had a zoom with him and the rest of the staff. He’s a great, genuine guy. I really had a great interaction with him.”
Phillips, injuries aside, is making his case to be the top pass rusher in the draft. Will the Steelers be the team? It’s always possible. Phillips fits the profile of a Steelers outside linebacker beautifully.