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2017 NFL Draft Profile: DE/OLB Carroll Phillips is coming for your quarterback

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Phillips’ game has its warts, but he can rush the passer at an elite level

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Carroll Phillips played at Illinois for two seasons after transferring from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Paired with fellow rushman Dawuane Smoot, they made one of the best pass-rushing pairings in the Big Ten. Smoot is a more well-rounded player, but Phillips’ ability to put pressure on the quarterback and create disruption in the backfield gives him value for NFL teams.

Prospect Measureables:

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 242 lbs.

Projected NFL position: 3-4 outside linebacker

Carroll Phillips Career Stats

YEAR GP TKL TFL SACKS PD FF FR
YEAR GP TKL TFL SACKS PD FF FR
2014 6 6 1 1 0 0 1
2015 10 26 4.5 2 2 0 1
2016 12 58 19 9 0 1 1
TOTAL 28 90 24.5 12 2 1 3

Combine Results:

40-yard dash: 4.64 seconds (5th-best among defensive ends) (fifth-best among defensive ends)

Bench press: 23 reps

Vertical jump: 30 inches

Broad jump: 123 inches (9th-best)

3-cone drill: 7.06 seconds (11th-best)

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds (10th-best)

Strengths

Can’t argue with production.

In one of the best conferences in America, Phillips racked up nine sacks and a staggering 20 tackles for loss — good for sixth-best in the NCAA in TFLs/game and the fifth-most by an Illini player in program history.

Phillips excels when he can use his quickness and explosiveness to get around the edge. When his motor gets revved up, Phillips demands that the opposing offense use a tight end to chip him, or keep a back in for protection. The left tackle for Western Michigan in the clip below has no chance:

Here’s another clip of how fast Phillips can get upfield. North Carolina tries to use misdirection and kick him out with a pulling backside guard on the quarterback draw, but Phillips blows up the play and is able to get to the quarterback without hardly being touched.

After the Illini’s regular season finished up, Phillips impressed at the Reese’s Senior Bowl against some of the best players in the country by testing off the charts in the practices leading up to the game and recording a sack in the game itself.

Weaknesses

While Phillips has a knack for making highlight plays behind the line of scrimmage, he is susceptible to getting beaten in the run game. There’s a reason he was 1st-team All-Big Ten by the media and only Honorable Mention in voting by coaches.

Michigan ran a draw play to his side of the field multiple times throughout the game, and Phillips played right into the Wolverines’ hands by getting too far upfield and watching the running back zoom past him:

Phillips is somewhat undersized at 240 lbs. and will have to bulk up to be able to compete against the run. His ceiling could be a third-down pass rushing specialist, which will hurt his draft stock; it’s hard to use an early pick on a guy that might not be able to play every down.

Phillips will make the transition from a 4-3 defensive end in college to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the pros to best utilize his pass-rushing abilities. While the change is something that many college players have to go through each year, it’s another challenge that Phillips will face in his first training camp.

Another concern with Phillips is that he had just one year of production. Right as Phillips was beginning to make an impact in 2015, he was sidelined for the season with a neck injury that shelved him for the season. Was he just a flash in the pan last year?

Senior Highlights

NFL Comparison

Brad: Nick Perry, OLB, Green Bay Packers

Steve: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Chicago Bears

Projected Draft Position

NFL.com: Rounds 4-5

CBS Sports: Rounds 4-5

Walker Football: Round 3, 105th to Pittsburgh

TCR prediction: Round 4, 122nd to Baltimore