Miami Dolphins training camp is a mere 10 days away, as veterans are looking to secure a spot on the 53-man roster, while rookies are looking to make a good impression on the coaching staff.
One rookie on the defensive side of the ball may have drawn the most attention among rookies from the front office and media following the Dolphins, that rookie is Jordan Phillips. Drafted in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft, Phillips has the size and physical ability to crack the depth chart come the start of the NFL preseason.
In 2014, Phillips started all 13 games for the Oklahoma Sooners in his final season with the team, and gained conference recognition as he was a second team all-conference selection. But in his time with the Sooners, Phillips only started just 17 games since his arrival in 2011. Coming out as the No. 1 overall high school prospect out of Towanda High School (Kan.), Phillips sustained a back injury in 2013 that sidelined him, before coming back his final season to impress scouts, and ultimately get drafted. Many thought of Phillips as an initial first round selection, but he later fell back into day two of the draft.
"“Phillips has first-round ability all over him. He can dominate at the point of attack. He controls the run game. He reminds me of Terrance Knighton. People question his football character, which is why he’s being selected in the second round and not in the first.” – Mike Mayock of NFL.com"
One aspect of Phillips’ game that immediately sticks out is his size and athleticism, standing at 6’5″, 329 lbs. Phillips has the natural size of a defensive lineman, a build that can have an immediate impact at the NFL level.
Phillips accumulated 39 tackles in his final year with the Sooners before being drafted with the 52nd pick in the NFL Draft. Potentially being paired with Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and Olivier Vernon, the Dolphins may have one of the best defensive fronts in the league.
Although Phillips has a lot of potential riding on him early on, one previous injury really stands out to me when looking at his immediate impact in the NFL. Phillips has all of the intangibles of a NFL defensive lineman, but his season ending back surgery in 2013 may be daunting for Dolphins coaches as Phillips prepares for the toughest competition he has had to face, possibly causing a strain to an already tender injury.
When Phillips was first drafted by the Dolphins, I knew Phillips’ ideal fit would be with a 3-4 defense, due to his primary nose-tackle position in college. Scheme transitioning from college to the NFL level may come with a learning curve for Phillips, but if his intangible skills are impactful, we will likely see a good amount of production from #97 in his rookie season.