NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
It was an eventful weekend to say the least. It started with the Patriots breezing through to the AFC championship game and ended with the first ever BCS playoff championship. In all honesty, that game on Saturday aged me quite a bit and I am pretty sure my wife thinks I am crazy. For me, it was shocking to see the defense struggle as much as it did. This entire season, the defense has played well, probably the best it has in several years, but on Saturday there were some alarming trends that need to get fixed in a hurry if the Patriots are going to have a shot at the elusive 4th Lombardi Trophy. One player that really struggled was DT Vince Wilfork. For years, he has anchored the middle of the Patriots defensive line, but he is getting older and it may be time to look for his predecessor, so today I scouted Jordan Phillips. Name: Jordan Phillips
School: Oklahoma, (rSo.)
Weight: 330 Lbs.
Phillips has rare size for his position, but wears his weight well and looks and plays much lighter than his weight would suggest. He moves well, with a good first step, and has surprising quickness and agility. In the running game, Phillips has great strength and maintains his position, even when he is double teamed. On pass plays he gets excellent penetration, collapsing the pocket from the inside, and forcing Quarterbacks to either get rid of the ball or scramble out of the pocket. Phillips is not just a space eater; he is athletic and has a couple of nice pass rush moves, including a great swim move, which I highlighted in the play below.
As a red shirt sophomore, Phillips is young and inexperienced, especially considering he missed most of last year due to a back injury. One thing I noticed on film was that even though he does a great job getting pressure, he does not finish the play. This is due to a couple of different reasons. One is that he doesn’t keep his head up and his eyes on the ball. Another is he struggles to disengage from blockers. His height for the position is also sometimes a detriment. Smaller Centers are able to win the battle of leverage and he tends to bend at the waist as games go on. In the play below, you see Phillips get decent penetration on the run play, but then he cannot disengage from the Center, which allows the running back to run by him.
Phillips is an intriguing player. Right now, he is raw but has only just scratched the surface of his potential. I envision him as a player who could make in impact from the DT position as both a run stuffer and a pass disruptor. He probably won’t put up big numbers that jump off the stat sheet, but his ability to collapse the pocket could be a valuable asset. He needs to work on his play awareness and technique but the physical tools are there. If he were drafted by the Patriots, I could see him as a rotational player in year one while he learned under Vince Wilfork and a solid starter after that. I give Phillips a solid second round grade.