2023 NFL Draft

Combine Interview: CB Clark Phillips Enjoyed His Time Talking To Steelers: ‘It Was One Of My Most Fun Interviews’

Utah CB Clark Phillips had himself quite the year for the Utes last season, posting 24 total tackles, two TFLs, a sack, six PBUs, and six INTs, two of which he returned for TDs. For his college career, Clark picked off nine passes and had a total of four pick-sixes in three seasons, having a nose for the football paired with the mindset to score.

“I’m a ferocious, relentless, smart, nasty ball hawk,” Phillips said when asked to describe his game.

When I spoke with Phillips at the Combine in Indianapolis, I saw a young, but driven, determined player that isn’t going to let someone tell him what he can and can’t do. He is a goal-driven person, owning a notebook full of goals that he bought from the dollar store back in his freshman year at Utah, writing down goals for himself on stats for the season, accolades, draft status, athletic testing, and even academic goals.

I asked Clark who he compares his game in the league as well as some guys that he looks up to that are currently playing in the NFL.

“Man, great question,” Phillips responded. “I would say Jaire Alexander. Kenny Moore: I like his versatility. I like his ability to move. But I bring up Jerry Alexander first just because of the obvious, the height, his elusiveness, the quickness, the cat-like quickness, the change of direction. And then just the dog mentality that I’m going to dominate the dude in front of me. Every single rep. I think his fierceness and his ferociousness is something that I look up to and it’s something that every single week that he plays, I try to watch that game.”

Jaire Alexander is a good comparison for Phillips in the sense of his ball-hawking skills at the position, posting five INTs last season, earning a Pro Bowl nod. Alexander is also similar as a smaller CB but has the skills to lineup on the outside and cover bigger, stronger receivers. While Phillips lacks the same bulk at the position, he has shown that he is more than up for the task at covering WRs out on the boundary.

Being listed at 5’10, 183lb, Phillips has had plenty say he must play in the slot as he transitions from college to the pros. Our own Owen Straley who profiled Phillips for the site suggested that Phillips could immediately slide into the slot and help Pittsburgh generate more takeaways from that position given his playmaking ability, stating he could provide depth n the boundary if needed.  Still, Clark starred on the outside for the Utes, being named a unanimous All-American selection after covering #1 receivers in the Pac-12.

When I asked him about being able to ravel with a team’s #1 wideout and play both inside and outside, Clark believes he can play both given what he’s put on tape thus far.

“Most definitely,” Phillips said. “I think that’s another thing that separates me from my class. A lot of guys can only play one thing whereas I pride myself on being able to move inside, whether that be follow a guy, if he goes to the slot, the running back position goes to center, I’m going with him. I feel like I can do that. And so, I’m grateful for being able to have that versatility, but I think, that’s something that teams are going to value as well. We’ll see though.”

Phillips’ size and long speed may relegate him to a slot role in the league, but he has shown the ability to hold up against some of college football’s best the last two seasons, covering Drake London, Jordan Addison, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba on the perimeter and holding his own in those matchups.

When I asked if Phillips met with the Steelers and any possible interaction he may have had with Mike Tomlin, Phillips confirmed their meeting, stating that his formal meeting with Pittsburgh stuck out amongst the rest.

“Ya, I met with the Steelers,” Phillips said. “It was a formal meeting. It was great. Coach Tomlin is super great. It was one of my most fun interviews. They talked about everything from my childhood to who I am as a player, and I was super grateful for that.”

The Steelers aren’t hiding their interest at the cornerback position, having formal interviews with nearly every top prospect here. Clark Phillips is no exception, and apparently, his meeting with Pittsburgh was one that resonated with him a day later. While his size and lack of consistency as a tackler may ding him, he is a feisty, ferocious competitor as he mentioned above that has a real knack for taking the football away.

Pittsburgh led the lead in INTs last season but could use more splash in the secondary to maintain and improve their ball production from a year ago. Phillips could be that guy in the middle rounds as a player that is wired right with the mindset to impact the game and achieve the lofty goals he set for himself.

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