Dolphins’ Jaelen Phillips one of the early favorites to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

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Keven Lerner, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
·2 min read
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Miami Dolphins first-round draft pick Jaelan Phillips, a standout edge rusher from the University of Miami, is one of the early favorites to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Phillips, taken 18th, was the first defensive lineman drafted on Thursday night and is expected to make an immediate impact with the Dolphins during his rookie season, according to Vegas oddsmakers.

Phillips has the second-best odds to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2021, according to BetOnline. Phillips was given 7/1 odds, trailing only Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (4/1), who was selected with the 12th pick.

Colts defensive end Kwity Paye, the 21st pick, has the third-best odds (15/2), followed by cornerbacks Jaycee Horn (picked 8th by Carolina) and Patrick Surtain II (picked 9th by Denver) and linebacker Zaven Collins (drafted 16th by Arizona) at 10/1.

On offense, Dolphins rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle, taken 6th by the Dolphins, is tied for having the ninth-best odds at 14/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, along with former Alabama teammate Najee Harris, who was drafted 24th by Pittsburgh.

The clear favorite to win the award is Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence at 13/4, followed by quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trey Lance at 11/2.

Phillips, who also was given the second-best odds to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by PointsBet, is the most diverse, well-rounded edge player in the draft with an arsenal of pass-rushing moves and exceptional edge-setting skills.

The Dolphins needed to find a reliable edge setter and forceful pass rusher after releasing Kyle Van Noy and trading Shaq Lawson this offseason.

The Dolphins drafted Phillips after a standout transfer season with the Hurricanes, where he had eight sacks, 45 tackles, 15 1/2 for loss, and an interception in 10 games. Phillips’ draft stock rose significantly following multiple injuries at UCLA and a brief retirement.

“It’s perseverance. There were good days. There were bad days. I kept my faith. I stayed humble and I worked hard,” Phillips said after being drafted. “It’s been surreal. … I’m so thankful for everyone that’s helped me in my career.”

Phillips also excelled in the combine-style workouts at UM’s Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, a blazing time for a defensive end. Benching 21 reps of 225 pounds, he added a 36-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-5 broad jump to display his explosiveness.

“Everybody’s path to success isn’t linear at all. There’s ups and downs,” he said after his impressive Pro-Day showing.