Why the Slide?: Clark Phillips, CB, Utah

Our “Why the Slide” series parallels and grew out our “Why Undrafted” series. The latter was created a number of years ago in response to your questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For both series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

After a great performance in the Rose Bowl to close out the 2021 season, there were a lot of projections of Clark Phillips being an early-round pick. He followed up his breakout season with six interceptions in 2022. While Phillips (5-9, 184) has obvious size limitations, he still was considered to be an early-round prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft. It was surprising therefore when he slipped to the fourth round.

Team sources from around the NFL said Phillips had some struggles in the team meetings with the mental side of the game, and that caused some teams to feel that Phillips could have problems picking up their scheme. Adding that alongside the size limitations caused Phillips to slide.

The Atlanta Falcons ended Phillips slide in the fourth round, and they were a good landing spot for him. In 2023, Phillips can learn behind veteran Mike Hughes, who should man the slot for Atlanta. Hughes only signed a 1-year contract, so Phillips could take over in 2024 as the starting slot. HePhillipshas a year to impress as a backup and learn the Falcons’ scheme, which sounds like a good plan for him to develop. It would not be that surprising if Phillips is able to be coached up by Atlanta and he turns into a nice value pick for the organization.

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