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Through nine weeks, Jaelan Phillips is still adjusting to life as an NFL pass rusher.
The 18th overall pick in the 2021 draft has picked up the game rather quickly despite his traditional numbers not jumping off the page. In nine appearances, Phillips has recorded just two sacks on the season. However, he’s been productive putting pressure on the quarterback with 21 pressures. Only eight rookies in the last four seasons have had more after nine games.
During his Tuesday media availability, Phillips was asked about studying his pass rush moves, and he made an interesting comparison.
“I’d say my game is constantly evolving,” Phillips said. “They kinda always say with pass rushers that they’re like pitchers. You gotta have a good fastball and a good off-speed. For me, it’s just kind of what works for me and what works against different types of tackles.”
The comparison does make some sense. The best pitchers have a mix of pitchers that they can use to get a guy out. It’s extremely rare that a guy has one pitch to do the job. For pass-rushers, tackles are professionals, so if you’re going to use a swim move every time, they’re going to figure that out.
Phillips is learning and mixing up his moves well. If he can continue to grow and maybe convert some of those pressures into sacks, he’ll get a lot more recognition.