After trading two 2nd round and one 3rd round pick to move up and secure Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds, the Bills made their next choice just at the end of the round 3, the pick from the trade with the Eagles, number 96 overall, that became Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.
The 6’3″ 307 lb DT led his team with 103 tackles in his senior season while playing mostly at the nose tackle position, a really impressive feat. Then, at the combine, he showed his top notch strength and work ethic, leading all players with 42 reps on the bench press. Phillips is, by all accounts, an extremely dedicated and smart player, with a great motor and elite ability against the run. According Pro Football Focus, he led the nation with 38 run stops last season, with a second-best 12.9 run stopping percentage. He can contribute starting day one.
Phillips leveraging his gap and easily disengaging.. pic.twitter.com/QpXzCocF3A— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 1, 2018
But with all this production and background, what made Phillips slide to the end of the 3rd round? First, he comes to the league as an extremely raw pass rusher, shown by his less-than-ideal 6.3 PFF pass rush productivity grade. He lacks a variety of moves in this department, always trusting his power and nonstop motor to achieve success.
Phillips with a nice rep. pic.twitter.com/0L2fbA5OwM— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 6, 2018
Another concern is his struggles against double teams, a big problem for a nose tackle at the next level. A NFL NT needs to be able to hold up against double teams, and Phillips lacks ideal size and length (33 7/8″ arms) to consistently hold up there.
Guard is unable to climb so Mccray shoots the gap. Nice block by the Bama center Bozeman. Overtakes the block on Phillips and finishes. pic.twitter.com/FyQRRgOJnl— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 31, 2018
He plays with high pad level too often, and that can be seen on good and bad reps.
Normal day at the office for DT Harrison Phillips, very good hand placement, leverages his gap with his helmet in the hole, disengages and stuffs the RB. pic.twitter.com/JnmpRGkjHX— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 5, 2018
Since the pre-draft process, we heard some analysts comparing the former Cardinal to Bills legend Kyle Williams. Despite being different players, with Kyle the more athletic all around DT and Phillips the more powerful run stopper, it’s easy to understand the comparison. Both are built more like guards, lacking the length and size that the NFL people covet at the position. At this moment, Phillips lacks the prototypical size of a NT and the pass rushing skills to be a great 3 tech DT. Beane and McDermott already said he will probably get playing time rotating at both positions and, learning from a guy who beat all the odds, he will be able to develop into the next great Bills defensive tackle.