Pros: Big target with soft hands. Has deceptive speed and is a capable receiver on short and intermediate routes. Is a reliable outlet receiver. Secures ball well before turning upfield. Is a physical runner after the catch.
Cons: He's not explosive and not going to stretch defenses. Doesn't get a great release off the line. Plays a lot in the slot. Not as physical a blocker as his size would merit and doesn't get much push.
Overview: He's a big target that is a capable receiver, but is not going to be anything special at the next level as a receiver. Had 48 catches this past year in his only season as a full-time starter. Platooned with Tom Santi and Jonathan Stupar last year, both of whom are in the NFL. But he is probably better than both, at least as a receiver. Reminds me a bit of Zach Hilton.
NFL Forecast: He's good enough to be a decent starter, but will never really excel at the position. If he does become a starter, eventually his team will want to upgrade over him. Will never really be appreciated as a go-to weapon in the offense, but could be a nice fourth option. He needs to improve as a blocker, and if he does then he can stick. But he's not a great blocker and will need some time to develop there. That's where he reminds of Hilton, who is a capable receiver, but because he's not a good blocker has difficulty sticking on teams. Could last a long time as a No. 2 tight end, but will need to become an improved blocker.
ATL Forecast: Phillips isn't really an upgrade in the passing game. He's not as good a blocker as Peelle, and really doesn't bring any element in the passing game that Peelle doesn't already have. And frankly, Peelle is better than him in every area. If he can improve as a blocker, he could be a nice developmental No. 2, but won't be a significant factor in Atlanta. At least not any more so than Peelle already is.
Value: Phillips is a nice late round pick as a tight end. The earliest he should go is perhaps the late fifth round for a team looking for a developmental guy. But I'd probably prefer to take him in the sixth.
Scouting Reports of tight ends in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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