Cleveland Browns LB Jacob Phillips is getting the start against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Phillips, 21, is stepping into this role earlier than expected due to the injury of Mack Wilson.
Wilson suffered a hyperextended knee on August 18 and is expected to miss at least 4 to 6 weeks.
It’s gonna be a challenge all year for are line backer group we we’re already kinda thin with losing Schobert, & Kirksey To FA this off season then we lost Mack Wilson 😢. Pulling For Jacob Phillips to step up big 👏. And the rest of are LBs rest of defense should be ok.
— Andrew Spicer (@Andrew747x) September 11, 2020
While 2020 has been a bust for many of us, that is not the case for Jacob Phillips.
After winning the National Championship with his fellow LSU Tiger teammates, Phillips was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2020 NFL Draft (97th pick overall).
“With the 97th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns select … Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU.”
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 25, 2020
The 6’3″ 229 pound Phillips hails from Nashville, Tennessee.
Phillips was selected as Tennessee’s Mr. Football in his senior year of high school.
He played in the U.S. Army All American Bowl.
And he originally planned to attend the University of Oklahoma but changed his mind to LSU.
Phillips started his final 2 years at LSU.
He led the SEC in tackles last season.
Phillips got mixed reviews by scouts leading up to the NFL Draft.
Ironically, it was reported he would need “significant development to reach starting caliber”.
Furthermore, “his coverage instincts, processing skills, agility, and lateral mobility don’t impress.”
His quickest path to the NFL was deemed to be in a special teams role.
At a September 1 conference call, Coach Stefanski was asked specifically about the progression of Jacob Phillips throughout training camp.
“Jacob, he runs around and he wants to see ball, get ball. I think he is built athletically to go do that. Like every other rookie at every other position probably with every other team, it is not perfect. There is a growing period to this, and I think he has made strides each and every day he has been out there on the grass.”
#Browns LB coach Jason Tarver on rookie Jacob Phillips, who's expected to start in place of Mack Wilson: He makes corrections well. He likes contact and has gotten better and better using his hands and length.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) September 11, 2020
Mack Wilson’s Progress
Wilson is listed as out on the Week 1 injury report.
He suffered the injury in mid-August.
Wilson had an impressive rookie season in 2019, playing in all 16 games and netting 82 tackles (57 solo), one sack, and one interception.
Since the news broke that he did not require season-ending surgery, the timetable has been 4-6 weeks.
With that in mind, he is likely out Week 2 and potentially beyond unless he progresses quicker than expected.
That means Jacob Phillips is likely the starting LB for the foreseeable future.