Name: Harrison Phillips
Position: Defensive Tackle
Quantitatively, Phillips has enough mass to hold up as an NFL nose. He is fairly long at 6-foot-4 with good arm length and is solidly built through the trunk. The only real concern with his size is his proportions. Phillips has long legs, giving him a high base. The prototypical NFL nose is squatty with low centers of gravity. As such, Phillips may have to work harder to maintain leverage at the NFL level.
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Outside of perhaps Vita Vea, no defensive tackle in this class uses power as effectively as Phillips. He has the lower body strength to anchor and take on double teams or drive his blocker into the backfield. And his upper body strength was on display at the combine where he put up 42 reps on the bench press, the most by any player, any position.
Lance Zierlein describes Phillips as “more active than athletic,” and that is the perfect way to describe him. He appears quick in that he is involved in a ton of plays and is constantly in motion. However, he does not have burst through gaps as one would like a potential first round pick to have. His side-to-side movements are a little clunky, as well. Essentially, Phillips’ ability to beat blockers is due to engagement, separation, discard as opposed to out-athleting them.
Philliips is virtually unblockable when taken straight-on. He has too much power and upper body strength, allowing him to keep separation, find the ball carrier and make the play. Double teams have a little more success, but even then he sets anchor well and splits more often than not. Against zone schemes, he takes good, hard angles to get out in front, though his lack of lateral quickness leaves him vulnerable to quicker linemen. Phillips has a good recovery anchor, meaning that he is never overpowered or fully out of the play, even when he is successfully blocked.
Again, Phillips’ high center of gravity is a bit of concern moving forward, as he will likely not be able to simply dominate or anchor in against NFL interior lines. He tends to play a little bit straight, which he will have to eliminate very quickly or else he will spend much of his rookie season on the ground. Given he irons that out, Phillips has potential immediate starter upside as a run-stuffing nose.
Phillips is a pocket pusher all the way. His get off is just OK, but it does not matter. He can get up into his man and simply drive him back into the quarterback’s lap. Phillips had at least seven sacks in each of his last two seasons primarily using this method. He also employs swim and spin moves that are solid, if not a tad methodical. Beyond that, Phillips’ upside as a pass rusher is a bit of a question mark. He lacks the quickness and burst to be a three-technique, but as a nose he could play on passing downs. His sack numbers will never be what they were in college, as NFL lines are simply too strong to be overpowered consistently. But just by virtue of being strong and active, Phillips should collapse some pockets in his NFL career.
Like many interior players in this class, Phillips’ projections run the gamut. Some have him as the number three defensive tackle on the board, others have him seventh. Some suspect he is a late first round selection, others say day three. He is a bit of a tweener, lacking the frame of a typical nose and the quickness of a three-technique or 3-4 end. But his body of work and general hatred of being blocked make him an intriguing prospect, especially if he falls into the second or third.
Phillips was not a Vikings top-30 target, but they did meet with him at the Senior Bowl back in January. With the Vikings lacking depth at defensive tackle, Phillips makes sense as a day two selection. He would provide a run-stopping spell to Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson and could get some run on passing downs. Plus, as a guy with starter upside, Phillips could be an insurance policy in case Richardson flops in his one-year deal.
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