2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Clark Phillips

December 5, 2022 1:00 PM EST


Clark Phillips Scouting Report picture

School: Utah

Height: 5'10"

Weight: 183

Eligibility: RSO

Uniform: #1

Position: CB


Evaluated by: Sam Teets
sam.teets86@gmail.com
Twitter: Sam_Teets33
December 5, 2022


Prospect Overview


2020: 14 games
2021: 5 games
2022: 12 games to date

Phillips was a four-star recruit from La Habra High School in La Habra, Calif. in the class of 2020. He was the No. 51 recruit according to 247Sports, No. 67 for Rivals, and No. 51 for On3.com. ESPN ranked him 90th in the nation with an 84 grade out of 100.


Clark Phillips Scouting Report image 1

As a high school senior, Phillips totaled 28 tackles, four interceptions, and seven passes defended on defense plus 30 receptions for 435 yards and ten touchdowns on offense. He tallied 18 tackles, two interceptions, ten passes defensed, 54 receptions, 1,210 yards, and 19 touchdowns as a junior. As a sophomore, the four-star recruit produced 26 tackles, seven interceptions, 15 passes defensed, 127 rushing yards on eight carries, and 153 total return yards on kicks and punts.

Phillips also received offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, and Washington. He has two sisters and a brother.

The California product took over as a starter on Kyle Whittingham's defense during his freshman season, which was shortened to five games because of COVID-19. Phillips led the Utes in passes defensed in 2021 and earned Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors.

Through 12 weeks of college football, Phillips is tied for the most interception in the FBS at six with Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbes and Miami's Kamren Kinchens.


Clark Phillips Scouting Report image 2

Positives

Phillips is unofficially listed at 5'10", 183 lbs., but he'll measure in at 5'9" at his pro day and the NFL Combine. The California native is an outside corner who plays toward both the field and boundary sides for Utah. He's playing a much larger percentage of his snaps in the slot this season compared to previous years. Phillips has generated consistent ball production since joining the Utes in 2020.

He's quick to read the quarterback's eyes and jump routes or trigger on short throws. His anticipation and instincts pair well with his closing speed and burst to undercut routes and make plays on the ball. Phillips also has a terrific reaction time and instant acceleration that gives him a wide range of influence despite his size and adequate but not elite arm length.

The former four-star recruit is an excellent athlete who displays light and fast feet, quick foot speed in his backpedal and throughout his game, and the acceleration to break away for pick-sixes or stay on the hips of wide receivers. He has excellent agility and effortlessly changes directions. There are no issues or tightness when flipping his hips.

Phillips is sticky at the top of routes and has the athleticism to mirror receivers. He has excellent ball-tracking skills, body control, and hands that help him make pass breakups in contested catch situations. He's physical at the catch point and will reach around receivers to break up passes without committing a penalty. Phillips sniffs out and makes plays on wide receiver screens.

At the very least, Phillips has a path to the field at the NFL level as a special teams player. He's played more than 160 special teams snaps in college, divided among the punt return, punt coverage, and field goal block units.

Areas for Improvement

Phillips might be forced into a slot-only role at the NFL level because of his lack of size. His small frame puts him at a disadvantage as a tackler and in coverage against larger receivers. Missed tackles are a concern for Phillips, and he struggles to disengage from blocks and redirect to the football. He's not a significant contributor as a run defender.

The potential All-American must overcome his size disadvantage at the next level. He battles above his weight in coverage, but he will need to adjust how he addresses blocks and his tackling technique to become a more well-rounded player.

Phillips needs to show more urgency when carrying players in motion across the formation. He has good recovery speed but isn't a true burner. Arriving late to assignments could prove costly depending on his opponent.

The All-Pac-12 cornerback is sometimes too aggressive and surrenders deep throws. Phillips wants to keep his eyes on the quarterback as much as possible so he knows when to jump routes. He also wants to bait less patient or savvy quarterbacks into throws that he'll jump for interceptions. However, this sometimes leaves Phillips vulnerable to double moves or losing leverage. He has the recovery speed to get back into some of those plays, but not all of them.

Phillips occasionally gives receivers too much cushion off the snap, which is strange considering his athletic prowess. Phillips has limited reps in press coverage, and that's a role he likely won't fill in the NFL, considering his lack of power and not elite arm length.

There are times when Phillips allows the ball into his body instead of making hand catches. As a former high school wide receiver, Phillips has excellent hands, but he needs to become more consistent at reaching out to meet the ball instead of waiting for it to come to him.


Clark Phillips Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

Despite being physically outmatched, Phillips held his own against USC's Drake London in 2021. He also impressed in Utah's 2021-22 Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State. The third-year sophomore traded blows with USC's Jordan Addison earlier this year (2022), coming out a little worse for wear. However, Addison has punked more than his fair share of future NFL corners. Phillips performed better than most defensive backs against the reigning Fred Biletnikoff Award winner.

Phillips' total body of work, which includes games against BYU's Puka Nacua (2021), UCLA's Kyle Philips (2021), Oregon's Devon Williams (2021), UCLA's Jake Bobo (2022), Arizona's Jacob Cowing (2022), Oregon's Troy Franklin (2022), and Stanford's Elijah Higgins (2022), is overwhelmingly positive. He's showcased growing route-mirroring skills over the past two years, and his confidence in his instincts is at an all-time high.

Phillips could be pushed down draft boards into the second round because of the immense talent in the 2023 cornerback class. There are at least five other cornerbacks with legitimate first round aspirations in Oregon's Christian Gonzalez, Penn State's Joey Porter Jr., Georgia's Kelee Ringo, South Carolina's Cam Smith, and Illinois' Devon Witherspoon. Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbes, Alabama's Eli Ricks, and Syracuse's Garrett Williams could also compete for top 50 selections.

Phillips is a unique physical talent who would be in the top cornerback discussion if he were three inches taller and ten pounds heavier. His agility and high-end athleticism make him a candidate to contribute in multiple schemes across multiple roles, but he'll likely wind up taking snaps in the slot. Phillips is a lock to go in the top 50 picks and has the talent to go in the back end of the first round.


Clark Phillips Scouting Report image 4

Player Comparison

Clark packs a combination of Clemson corner Andrew Booth Jr.'s loose physical traits and Auburn corner Roger McCreary's technical savvy and size limitations. Booth went to the Minnesota Vikings with the 42nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, while McCreary went to the Tennessee Titans at 35th overall.

Clark has the fluid athletic traits that made Booth an attractive prospect at Clemson. He's a loose athlete who wants to make plays on the football and looks for game-changing plays. Like Booth, Clark has some twitchiness to his game, and his acceleration and burst allow him to make splash plays. However, those traits sometimes led to Booth getting beat deep at Clemson.

Booth fell in the draft because of injury concerns, and he's struggled to catch on with the Vikings. His only significant playing time this season hasn't gone well. Fortunately, Clark seems more calculated in his approach than Booth.

The Associated Press chose McCreary as a 2021 First-Team All-American after he dominated during his final season with the Tigers. The current Titan wasn't as fluid of a prospect as Booth or Clark, but he was a sticky corner that allowed minimal separation and played above his size at the catch point. Both Clark and McCreary possess the skills to operate in man or zone coverages but received late-first to early-second round projections because of physical limitations concerning their size.

McCreary played almost exclusively outside in college, but he's splitting time between the slot and outside corner roles with the Titans. That's good news for Clark, a more fluid athlete who should measure in with longer arms than the former Auburn standout.

There's one massive flaw in the comparisons to Booth and McCreary. Those two corners were highly physical defenders who frequently tortured wide receivers in press coverage or flew downhill to blow up running plays. Clark is significantly more passive against the run and shows less natural aptitude for press coverage.

Games Evaluated

  • BYU (2021)
  • San Diego State (2021)
  • USC (2021)
  • Ohio State (2021)
  • Florida (2022)
  • Oregon State (2022)
  • UCLA (2022)
  • USC (2022)


Scouting Video Courtesy of Kalifornia Highlights




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