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Jaelan Phillips linked to Cardinals in Daniel Jeremiah’s first mock draft

Miami Hurricanes head into bye knowing true test in No. 1 Clemson is on the other side Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah posted his first mock draft of the year and he has the Arizona Cardinals selecting Miami pass rusher Jaelan Phillips with the No. 16 pick.

Phillips, who was once considered the nation’s top recruit, is now a potential first-round pick after a difficult start to his college football career.

He dealt with an ankle injury, wrist injury, and concussions during his first two years at UCLA that forced him to medically retire from the game after the 2018 season.

After sitting out 2019 to heal up and to become eligible to play again, Phillips decided to return to football and transferred to the University of Miami.

With Greg Rousseau, who had 15.5 sacks with the Miami Hurricanes last year, opting out of 2020 to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, that opened the door for Phillips to have more playing time.

NCAA Football: Miami at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did Phillips become a starter for the Canes, he was their most consistent pass rusher this season.

He finished the year with 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and an interception.

Phillips possesses great size (6-5 266lbs) for a 3-4 outside linebacker and has outstanding athletic ability. The 21-year-old could turn out to be the best pass rusher from the 2021 draft class when everything is said and done.

With that said, do I think this is a good pick for the Cardinals?

Chandler Jones is entering a contract year and is scheduled to have a cap hit of over $20.8 million in 2021. If the Cardinals do not plan on extending his contract, then drafting Phillips would be a solid investment for their future.

Arizona Cardinals v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

However, with the Cardinals likely to re-sign Haason Reddick and Jones still under contract for now, that would relieve the need to draft a pass rusher in the first round. Also worth noting, they will re-sign Dennis Gardeck despite his ACL tear and might have interest in bringing Markus Golden back as well.

Phillips’ medical history is a concern but his upside cannot be denied.

He is an interesting prospect but, in my opinion, not necessarily the best choice for the Cardinals with their first-round pick with so many other holes and vacancies on the roster.