6-1/239 Texas Christian
Pros: He's a good tackler with nice pop, showing good instincts and toughness. Does a good job vs. the inside run. Shows potential as an interior blitzer.
Cons: Lacks speed and quickness and won't be able to make plays sideline to sideline. Will struggle matching up in coverage for same reasons. Needs to improve at the point of attack as he can get engulfed by blockers.
Overview: Phillips is a solid middle man that doesn't have ideal NFL size/speed. Tore meniscus in left knee at the Combine and should be able to return in training camp. Began career as a fullback, but moved to linebacker after redshirt year. A four-year starter that had 38.5 career tackles for loss.
NFL Forecast: Because of the issues with size and speed, he'll immediately remind you of Zach Thomas. Although I think Dat Nguyen is a better comparison. Not as explosive as Nguyen or Thomas, but he could stick in the NFL. I don't love his upside, but he has the toughness to beat the odds. I think he'll work best as an inside man in the 3-4 scheme, but could also be a decent option the 4-3 at the MIKE. He'll probably just be a two-down player however. He's not bad in coverage, just will have a hard time matching up at the next level and could be somewhat a liability there. At the very least he'll be a heck of a backup that can play on special teams. But I think he is worth developing as a starter. You probably want to sit him for a year or two so that he learns enough to make sure his smarts make up for his lack of athleticism, and then plug him in.
ATL Forecast: Phillips would probably be a backup here in Atlanta. He can start at middle linebacker, but you'd have to move Lofton outside to his less natural WILL spot and that's not an ideal situation. Instead, the Falcons would be better off developing Phillips as a backup and then two or three years down the line reassessing whether it's in their best interest to start both him and Lofton or keep one on the bench. But overall, he would be a less than ideal fit in Atlanta for those reasons.
Value: He is a solid middle round pick. Probably the earliest he should go off the board is the fourth round, but I'd probably target him in the fifth.
Scouting Reports of inside and outside linebackers in the 2009 NFL Draft
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