Photo of Kenny Phillips
Grade
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  • 19 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 6'2" Height
  • 208LBS. Weight

Overview

By becoming the ninth safety to earn All-American honors, Kenny Phillips carries on the school's tradition of producing elite defensive backs.

Burgess Owens was the first Miami safety to garner All-American recognition (1972) and it was nine years before the next one was selected in Fred Marion (1981). Bennie Blades was the school's first-time All-American safety (1986-87) and Ed Reed matched that total in 2000-01. Sean Taylor (2003) and Brandon Meriweather (2005) soon followed with their postseason honors.

The coaching staff called Phillips a player with the build of Sean Taylor and the knowledge and quickness of Ed Reed. With that combination, along with physical play that could rival that of any Hurricane linebacker, NFL scouts took notice.

Being regarded as the best safety in the game is nothing new with Phillips. While attending Carol High School he was rated the best safety in the prep ranks, earning USA Today Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior free safety. The Parade All-American and Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team selection was also a member of the USA Today All-USA High School Football team and rated the nation's best safety prospect and 12th-best player regardless of position by Rivals.com.

Phillips was ranked as the best safety and the 10th-best overall prospect by Scout.com and the top prospect in Dade County by the Miami Herald. He ranked as the best prospect in the state by the Orlando Sentinel, the second-best overall prospect in the country by the Tampa Tribune, and the 10th-best overall player by Tom Lemming. He was also a member of the Florida Times-Union Super 75 squad and played in the prestigious Army All-American Bowl.

He intercepted 16 passes during his career and, as a senior, he finished with 84 tackles, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, four defensive touchdowns and three punt returns for touchdowns. As a junior, he delivered 54 tackles and seven interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns, including a 100-yarder. As a sophomore, he made three interceptions and also competed in basketball and track.

In 2005, Phillips enrolled at Miami, choosing the university over scholarship offers from Tennessee, Florida State and North Carolina State. He earned Freshman All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors from The Sporting News, Rivals.com and College Football News. He started the final 11 games of the year at free safety, replacing an injured Anthony Reddick. He ranked third on the team with 67 tackles (40 solo), adding three stops for losses, two quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and an interception.

As a sophomore, Phillips received third-team All-American honors from Rivals.com and was a second-team All-ACC choice, even though he missed the final three regular-season games with a broken thumb. He was one of eight Miami players selected to the 2006 ACC Academic Football Team and was named the team's Defensive Back of the Year. He made 54 tackles (39 solo) with six stops behind the line of scrimmage in ten games, starting at cornerback, free safety and strong safety. He also picked off four passes and deflected six others.

As a junior, Phillips was named All-American first-team by The NFL Draft Report, adding All-ACC first-team accolades. He started all 12 games at free safety, ranking second on the team with 82 tackles (54 solo). He registered six stops for losses and caused three fumbles. He also deflected five passes and came up with a pair of interceptions.

Phillips announced after the 2007 season that he will enter the 2008 NFL Draft as an underclassman. Phillips was advised by Miami head coach Randy Shannon to return for his senior season should he not be projected to go in the top 15, but he conceded it would be tough to turn away from a first-round projection.

''I definitely agree that if you're [projected] in the top 15 you should go,'' Phillips said. ``It's not every day that guys get the opportunity to live out the dream and play in the NFL.''

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Well-built athlete with very good muscle definition, long arms, good bubble and thick thighs and calves...Has a tight abdomen, broad shoulders and good chest thickness...Makes plays all over the field due to his above-average speed, ball-reaction skills and size to come up and generate good pop on contact when playing in the box...Plays special teams and gives total effort until the whistle...Reacts quickly in run support and has a punishing hand punch, using his arms properly to keep blockers off his feet...Decisive to diagnose, accelerates quickly to run alleys and is very instinctive closing on the ball, displaying loose hips in his plant-and-drive motion...Skilled deep coverage defender who has very quick feet and when he stays low in his backpedal, he shows fluid motions turning and running in transition...Has outstanding agility and balance closing on plays along the perimeter...Might get a bit wild and reckless attacking the ball, but he never slows down trying to close on the ballcarrier and is very effective at impeding the runner's forward progress by attacking the outside leg with consistency...Good team player who sets the tempo for the defense with his aggressive style of play...Has very nice short-area quickness to mirror the moves of receivers and refuses to allow any underneath cushion...Anticipates the action, showing proper timing and leaping ability tracking the ball in flight...Self-starter type that pushes others in the training room...Will compete throughout the play and has good strength to make the tackle in the box, using his arms well to get off blocks quickly to squeeze the rush lanes...Decisive ball skills and though he eyeballs the backfield at times, he is not the type that will get suckered out of position easily...Makes quick decisions, showing very good route recognition and feel staying with the receiver on long routes...Flexible athlete with the feet and explosion to stay stride-for-stride in man coverage, but is best when making plays in the open field...Can sink his hips and bend his knees to turn easily on the ball and often keeps a hand on his man through route progression...Settles in nicely dropping off in the zone, handling the switch-off with ease...Very decisive covering underneath and when he gets a good read on the quarterback, he can jump the play...Can cover a lot of ground chasing the ball in flight and has the second gear to recover when he falls behind...Will springs into his tackles and is very active staying in the receiver's face...Solid wrap-up tackler who shows good adjustment agility to break down and fit in the open...Has the hip snap to explode behind his tackles ...Extremely active in run support, especially when he uses his hands to play off blocks, as he is developing into an exceptional force-and-strike type...Quick to react and come downhill, as he has the size to take on and play off blocks (has improved his angles when making plays in traffic)...Even when he runs around blocks, he has the burst to close...Goes low in his stance and extends his arms to secure and wrap the ball carrier...Very comfortable working in the short area, doing a nice job of preventing the hooks and crossing patterns from developing...Turns his hips easily and gets his head around quickly on deep routes...Disruptive blitzer who gets aggressive when flushing the quarterback out of the pocket and shows consistency when closing. Negatives: Efficient in man coverage, but is best when playing in the zone, as he lets the receiver get right on top of him when playing in one-on-one situations...Shows good aggression in run support, but does not always take proper angles to close (will wide loop trying to avoid offensive tackles on the edge)...Must show better avoidance skills as a blitzer, as he has problems at times disengaging when he fails to extend his arms properly to keep blockers off his chest...Has great range and recovery quickness, but he sometimes gets turned around some on receivers' head fakes...When he does not plant and drive well, he reverts to crossing his feet, taking false steps trying to recover when switching off in the zone...Very good run-support tackler, but is not really in the playmaking class of Sean Taylor and Ed Reed. Compares To: SEAN TAYLOR-Washington...Like Taylor, Phillips is a very efficient tackler working inside the box, sort of like a linebacker with the way he squares his shoulders and sticks his hat into the action. He has good pass-coverage skills, but can be fooled by the receiver's head fakes or by the play-action in the backfield. He has great confidence in his timed speed and has seen action at cornerback because of it. His body is well-built, but there is still room for additional growth without having the added weight impact his overall quickness. If he is not the first safety taken in the 2008 NFL Draft, it would be a major surprise. He could be a very nice replacement for the late Sean Taylor in Washington's attacking defensive scheme.
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Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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