Saints land Miami DE Jaelan Phillips in NFL Wire mock draft

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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All 32 managing editors within the NFL Wire network recently got together for a first round mock draft, which put the Saints in a tough spot at No. 28. The top linebackers, cornerbacks, and defensive linemen were off the board, but I still found a way to leave with a highly-rated defender. Here’s what I wrote in the blurb:

“The top cornerbacks and linebackers are off the board, so the Saints are going after Miami pass rusher Jaelan Phillips. Phillips put up one of the best pro day workouts we’ve seen in years, which followed an outstanding 2020 season that saw the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder rack up nine sacks in seven games. He’ll push for first-string snaps immediately in the rotation with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, helping replace Trey Hendrickson (the Saints’ sacks leader last year who left for the Bengals in free agency). Phillips was available here only because of his injury history, but his game tape proves he is worth the risk.”

Phillips should slot into the rotation out on the edge immediately. The Saints do have Tanoh Kpassagnon and Carl Granderson as too solid backups, but there’s room for everyone considering how often the Saints rotate those spots, and maybe Jordan would benefit from being spelled more frequently given his down year in 2020.

Acquiring Phillips that late in the draft was great, even if he arrives at a position of lesser need. But here’s how I got into this frustrating position.

The first domino to fall was Caleb Farley being picked by the Cardinals at No. 16. Then Zaven Collins went to the Dolphins at 18, taking both of my top remaining prospects off the board. The run continued with linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and cornerback Greg Newsome getting snapped up, wiping out the top tier of defenders I’d been eyeing. Even wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. was unavailable, meaning I had to start looking at secondary needs.

A player picked here may not be an immediate starter, but Hendrickson showed last year that you can be a part-time player and still make a huge impact while getting in on 53% of snaps but bagging 13.5 sacks. And Phillips has the skills set to make an impact right away. The Saints could still find a starting corner later in the draft or as an available veteran free agent after all of the picks are filed, but it’s still frustrating to see the top targets go sooner. Maybe an opportune trade makes sense.

List

Final 2021 Saints mock draft: seven rounds of picks, with trades