Bengals: 4 best-kept secrets on Cincinnati’s current roster

Justin Fried
Bengals, Darius Phillips
Bengals, Darius Phillips /
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Bengals, Darius Phillips
Bengals, Darius Phillips /

1. Darius Phillips, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

Darius Phillips remains perhaps the most criminally underutilized player on the Bengals’ roster. And he isn’t guaranteed to receive any significant snaps in 2021 either.

A former fifth-round pick, Phillips has been making plays for the last two seasons and finally received his first extended look in 2020 when he started eight games for the team.

It’s hard to say it wasn’t earned either.

Over just 109 defensive snaps in 2019, Phillips managed an incredible four interceptions including a pair in his only start of the season. For his efforts, he earned an elite 81.6 PFF grade, although he didn’t play enough snaps to qualify.

The Bengals saw more of the same from Phillips in 2020 as he finished with an excellent 72.1 PFF grade that ranked 18th out of all cornerbacks in the NFL. The only Bengals defender to finish with a higher grade was Jessie Bates.

Phillips has been outstanding when given the chance, but the Bengals seem reluctant to give him a full-time starting job — likely a result of his size and injury history.

He’ll have to fight for snaps this season with the starting trio of Trae Waynes, Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton seemingly set.

And even at punt returner, it looks like he’ll have to compete with the newly-signed Trent Taylor, after it appeared the job was his following the departure of Alex Erickson.

Phillips might never receive the recognition he deserves, simply because he can’t find his way onto the field.

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For that reason, he remains the Bengals’ best-kept secret.