Bengals News

Darius Phillips Q&A with Hustle Belt

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EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 09: Cornerback Darius Phillips #4 of the Western Michigan Broncos intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Felton Davis III #18 of the Michigan State Spartans during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 09: Cornerback Darius Phillips #4 of the Western Michigan Broncos intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Felton Davis III #18 of the Michigan State Spartans during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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Phillips really impressed me with his transition to cornerback in college. Do you think that playing wide receiver first made him a better cornerback?

“Darius Phillips’ transition from receiver to cornerback definitely paid off because he’s great at recognizing routes. Playing wide receiver in his freshman year helped him to understand the offensive side of the ball better, thus increasing his ability to understand offensive plays and schemes. Also, the former receiver has a great set of hands that intercepted 12 passes in his three years lining up on the defensive side of the ball.”

Do you think Phillips will someday start for a squad or do you believe he will be a career backup?

“He definitely has the potential to play on the outside, but the size (5’10”, 190) is another question. His speed is top-notch, and his 4.39 40-yard time at Pro Day proves he can keep up with the fastest receivers in the pros. But there is some concern of Phillips matching up against the league’s stronger, taller receivers. Phillips excels in man coverage on the edge and has a knack for timing routes. With experienced and quality cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III on Cincinnati’s roster, Phillips’ first NFL snaps on defense will likely be in the slot in nickel and dime packages. But long-term, he definitely has potential to be a team’s starting outside cornerback based on coverage ability alone.”

What kind of coverage does Phillips play best in?

“Phillips’ ability to keep up with the fastest of receivers makes him ideal for man coverage. He attacks with strong closeout speed on routes and can often cut in front of receivers for deflections or interceptions at the last second. His biggest issue in one-on-one man coverage is the ability to win the physicality battle with the stronger, Calvin Johnson-like receivers in the league. Phillips’ backpedaling and sprinting abilities are already at an NFL level, but once a receiver catches a ball against his coverage, learning how to effectively tackle is a must for the young corner from Detroit.”

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