Cleveland Browns: Jacob Phillips ready for more in year two

Jacob Phillips was a third-round pick for the Cleveland Browns in 2020 and showed flashes of his potential as a rookie, but now he wants more in year two

2020 was an interesting year for rookies in the NFL. Players were selected in a virtual draft and then weren’t able to attend any rookie mini-camps — or team functions at all until training camp — due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19.

That meant rookies such as Cleveland Browns linebacker Jacob Phillips had to do the majority of their learning virtually. However, that didn’t mean they had much time off.

Phillips spoke with members of the Browns website recently and talked about how he had nearly no off days as he prepared for his rookie season. He then contrasted how getting ready for his first campaign is different than this season — saying he feels now as though he can “breathe.”

Not only does he enjoy being able to take a step back, but he feels like he has a better understanding of how to improve heading into his second season. Phillips pointed to how much more the NFL emphasizes tape study, whereas, in the collegiate world, he was relying more on athleticism.

“I think I’m a whole lot smarter,” Phillips said via Anthony Poisal of ClevelandBrowns.com. “Coming from college, watching film isn’t as much of a big thing. It’s basically just everyone going out and competing. Obviously there’s schemes, but in the NFL, we all know it’s a different level. I feel like I’ve got a good footing on it for next year.”

Phillips not only had to learn the ropes in the NFL but also had to overcome some injury concerns as a rookie as well. He missed seven games and finished with 25 tackles and one pass break-up in nine games for the Browns.

When he was healthy, however, he flashed plenty of his potential. He even led the team with 10 tackles — eight of which were solo — in their Week 17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There’s a good chance Phillips will be in the mix for a full-time starting job in 2021 with the Browns, meaning this offseason will be huge for him. And he’s ready to get back to work and become an even better player going forward.