The 2006 National Football League Draft has a number of interesting prospects at cornerback, especially in the middle rounds, including Penn State CB Anwar Phillips. Unlike last year, where five cornerbacks were taken in Round 1, the 2006 NFL Draft will be hard pressed to find three players that are worthy of a first-round selection at the position. The streaky Phillips will need to work hard if he is to find a way to put himself ahead of the pack.
Phillips was an all-state cornerback, wide receiver and return-specialist in high school before he was recruited by Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. The legendary coach from Happy Valley played the former track star at wide receiver at first but moved him back to defense in his sophomore season. That year, Phillips played in every game, recording 20 tackles, two defensed passes, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
After sitting out a full year on suspension due to a sexual assault charge, Phillips rebounded and played well during his final two seasons as a Nittany Lion. In 2004, he recorded four interceptions as an up-and-comer and improved his play in 2005. This past season, Phillips made 24 solo tackles, broke up 10 passes and intercepted another while playing alongside the more productive CB Alan Zemaitis.
One of the big things NFL scouts look for in cornerbacks now is size, and Phillips gives you a decent 5-foot-11 (193 pounds). He has good speed and can stop on a dime, changing direction in an instant. As a former receiver he has the mindset to get after the ball and has the hands to bring it down.
The former Lion is also extremely physical and can hold his own against the run - another attribute that will definitely help him out in the pros. Phillips also showed flashes of brilliance in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl, though not on a consistent basis.
The big knock on Phillips is his inconsistency in coverage. At times, he can look like a pure first-rate cover corner and, at other times, he will look very stiff.
His decision-making has also come into question, as he often bites on double moves and on play-action passes. This wouldn’t be so bad if he had blazing speed, but he does not, so when his man gets past him there’s no hope for recovery.
Phillips is not the most technically sound corner either, considering he spent time on offense and more time on the sideline, so he definitely needs to work on the finer points of the position.
Though it was a couple of years ago, and he may have matured by now, that sexual assault charge will surely be in the back of all of the scouts’ minds.
Phillips will really have to hope his work out at the NFL Combine wowed a few scouts if he plans on being taken in the second round of the draft. He has the potential to be a solid player, but his character questions and his inconsistencies on the field will keep him from being more than a second-round selection.
He will almost certainly go to a team that already has starters in place but needs some depth at the position. Teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals are all possible destinations for Phillips, especially in Rounds 3 or 4. At the NFL Combine he met with the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.
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About Francis Duffy
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