2023 Atlanta Falcons Round 4 NFL Draft Pick: Get to Know CB Clark Phillips
The Atlanta Falcons got a steal in Clark Phillips with the 113th overall pick in the draft. Phillips being the Falcons' fourth-round pick was very shocking to see because of how good he is. He was expected to go in the first two days and be someone's new starting nickel for this year with the potential to play outside after a rookie year. The Falcons now benefit from this selection by getting someone who could end up being a long-term fixture on the defense at outside corner.
University of Utah
Athletic Comparison and Numbers
Stats and Awards
2022: 12 Games Played, 24 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 6 Interceptions, 6 Pass Deflections, 2 Defensive Touchdowns, Unanimous All-American, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, First team All-Pac 12
2021: 14 Games Played, 62 Tackles, 1.0 Tackles for Loss, 2 Interceptions, 2 Fumbles Forced, 13 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown, Second Team All-Pac 12
2020: 5 Games Played, 25 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Recovered, 2 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown
Clark Phillips is probably one of the smartest football players on the field every time he steps out there. He's got great strength and quickness despite being a smaller guy. Phillips is a risk-taking player who can use his intelligence to pattern match and read the quarterback's eyes efficiently to create turnovers. He has the kind of speed that lets him take the ball to the house after a pick, as shown by his four pick-sixes during college.
Also Read: Get to know first-round pick, BIjan Robinson.
Phillips has a lot of quick-twitch abilities in his athleticism even if he's not the straight-line fastest guy on the field. He doesn't lose his speed when he's in pads. He's also extremely physical against receivers, in the run game and when trying to snatch the ball. The former Ute plays a lot like Brent Grimes in that he feels like the ball is his even if he's not the fastest guy on the field or the biggest or the strongest. He just makes plays.
The newest Falcon has some issues sticking with crossing routes at times, especially in off-man coverage, and that could be an issue in the NFC South with a lot of guys who can cross the field effectively. Phillips would have a tough time matching up with Michael Thomas who runs slants all the time, for example. He also will draw some more flags because he can be really grabby at times, and that could cause trouble for him in the NFL. At times, he gambles too much trying to create a big play, and that will hurt him without having an eraser at safety behind him.
Intangibles & Off-Field Red Flags
Clark Phillips is one of the most competitive players out there. He's a leader for the Utes and could end up being a leader for the Falcons as well. He was a team captain in college as just a junior, and it wasn't because of his play on the field, but because of his leadership on it. The Falcons will love having him in the locker room, and he's a continued part of building the culture in Atlanta.
" "I would say my X-factor is a combination of instincts and grit. My will to win can’t be taken for granted. I probably took it for granted before I realized how truly competitive and driven I am. I really want to win all the time.""- Clark Phillips
This quote was provided to The Draft Network's Justin Melo in this fantastic interview.
NFL Stylistic Comparison: Brent Grimes
How does he fit in with the Atlanta Falcons
Clark Phillips is a true nickel corner for the 2023 season. However, with his ability to read the ball in the air and make plays on it extremely well, it wouldn't be surprising to see him as an outside corner in 2024. The Falcons will love his competitive nature and leadership in the secondary and could see a long-term fit even past his rookie deal. Phillips could start right away at the nickel for the Falcons if he beats out Mike Hughes and Dee Alford for the job.
Why Clark Phillips instead of Tyler Scott, A.T. Perry, Noah Sewell or Andre Carter II?
It's very simple. Clark Phillips was far and away the best player on the board. Even though the Falcons invested heavily in cornerbacks this offseason, it's all one-year deals. Phillips is someone the Falcons can continue to build around on defense. Phillips can play nickel or either side on the outside. Tyler Scott and A.T. Perry are both excellent players, but wide receiver doesn't seem to be a focus. Linebacker doesn't seem to be either. Andre Carter would have been redundant with Zach Harrison.
All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats.All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.