The Cincinnati Bengals double down on the cornerback position in the fifth round selecting Western Michigan Darius Phillips.
The Cincinnati Bengals have already addressed some positions with their first three picks on day three. They started out by selecting running back Mark Walton out of Miami in the fourth round. Cincinnati followed with two picks in the fifth round cornerback Davontae Harris and defensive lineman Andrew Brown.
The Bengals doubled down on the cornerback position in the fifth-round by grabbing Western Michigan cornerback Darius Phillips. Starting out as a wide receiver at Western Michigan, Phillips moved to cornerback before the 2015 season where he ended up second-team All-Mac pick. He also had 16 passes defended despite his lack of size and length in his first year on defense.
During his time as a cornerback for Western Michigan, Phillips intercepted the ball 12 times in three years. Showing the hands as a former wide receiver on the defensive side of the ball is what the Bengals are looking for. Cincinnati wants more playmakers and turnovers in 2018 and Phillips fits the bill.
He also has experience as a kick returner for Western Michigan which is another area the Bengals are looking to address in this draft. Where he grabbed the most attention by scouts was his beginning of the 2017 season in non-conference games with an interception and 100-yard kick return against USC, an interception and three pass deflections to go along with a fumble returned for a touchdown against Michigan State.
Cincinnati is getting a ballhawk at the cornerback position with this draft pick. He has the instincts to play zone coverage and the quickness to play as a slot cornerback. The team could be looking for a new slot cornerback following 2018 if they cannot come to terms with cornerback Darqueze Dennard on a new long-term deal. Could Phillips develop in his rookie season and return kicks while he learns from a talented secondary room?