2018 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Darius Phillips
School: Western Michigan
Weight: 189 pounds
During his tenure in Kalamazoo, the Broncos tried to use Phillips’ explosion in a multitude of ways. From lining up as a receiver to returning kicks, Phillips needed the ball in his hands. While Phillips may not own top-end, track speed, he does have the burst to get downfield in a hurry. Phillips’ frame and measured stride help him stay hip to hip with receivers. If a receiver does gain separation, Phillips recovers well enough to make a play. Five return touchdowns and two kicks for scores are testament to how Phillips runs.
Although Phillips appears thin, he brings physicality to corner. At the snap, he will jam receivers with a quick blow. However, he does not always center his strike. As a result, the jam will ride a bit high. Phillips uses a stutterstep to transition from backpedal to run. Once he flips the hips, he gets stays with the receiver.
On shorter throws, Phillips drives on the ball with an economy of steps. In the return game, he will use a jab step to beat the first defender.
Phillips inserts himself into plays without hesitation or fear of being beaten. When knocking the ball away, he will either use the classic arm across technique. On high throws, Phillips uses the hand, between the receiver’s hands. Either way, 35 passes ended up away from their intended target. Meanwhile, Phillips senses the pick opportunity. By using a receiver-like stab, Phillips grabs the ball cleanly. From there, he is looking to score. Twelve interceptions that average 31.5 yards per return shed light on Phillips.
If there is an issue in Phillips’ game, it is this. With good NFL coaching, he can fix the technical flaws. First, he does not drive the ballcarrier. Instead, he opts to bounce off the opponent. With that said, Phillips used quick hands to force four fumbles.
In the final analysis, the Raiders could use a corner/returner like Phillips. New DB coach Derrick Ansley can fix any tackling issues. In return, Phillips brings a sticky-handed corner that could work the slot for the next few seasons for the Raiders. Coupled with coverage skills, Phillips would upgrade the woeful return game. The Raiders, under Del Rio did not strike fear in any opponents’ special teams. With a savvy third day pick, the Raiders could help two positions of need by drafting one player.