Jacob Phillips – Linebacker:
With pick No. 97 in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, the Browns selected linebacker, Jacob Phillips from LSU. The Browns needed depth at linebacker, and Phillips appears to be a nice fit for both sides. Patrick Queen was the star linebacker for the 15-0 Tigers in 2019, but Phillips led the team in tackles. In fact, Phillips only missed three tackles in 88 attempts last season.
Phillips has a terrific first step and enough speed to play all three downs in the NFL with some further coverage development. The LSU product is best with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and must continue to develop his agility. Phillips paired with Mack Wilson in a 4-2-5 scheme could be a dynamic duo with linebacker coach Jason Tarver making it clear early, it will be an open competition to find 2020 starters.
Phillips has the intelligence and instincts to be a great NFL linebacker, and a talented defensive line will help him ease into the next level and sit him up for a great rookie season. Many suspect Sione Takitaki and Wilson will be the day one starters, but if it is truly an open competition look for Phillips and Wilson to get most of the starting snaps.
Look for Phillips to dig into the playbook early and often and continue to work on his hip flexibility. If he can get better in coverage and continue to work on shedding blockers not only will he be a great rookie contributor, but he could also be a long-term piece to the Browns defense.
Expect Wilson and Phillips to banter back and forth on the Crimson-Tide and Tiger collegiate rivalry, but Wilson will be a great mentor and have Phillips ready to start week one vs. the Baltimore Ravens. This pick was from the Duke Johnson trade, which the Browns will be thrilled to fill with a starting-caliber linebacker next season.