2021 Cleveland Browns breakout candidate: Jacob Phillips

Jacob Phillips had a whirlwind rookie season for the Cleveland Browns but he could break out and become a star for them in 2021

Jacob Phillips played for three seasons at LSU and after playing a reserve role as a freshman, he took off in 2018 with 87 tackles for the Tigers.

That was just the appetizer, however, as Phillips was all over the field in 2019 racking up 113 tackles with 7.5 going for a loss. He was the team leader in tackles that season and did enough for the Cleveland Browns to use one of their two picks in Round 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft in order to add him to their roster.

As a rookie, Phillips had to deal with some adversity. The Browns, and the rest of the NFL, had to do all the offseason work virtually — and it was even more difficult for teams such as Cleveland who had an entirely different coaching staff.

Phillips also had to deal with missed time during the season due to an injury as well as a stint on the COVID-19 reserve list. But as the season ended, he started to show what he was capable of.

In their critical Week 17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers — the game that clinched them a spot in the playoffs — Phillips had 10 tackles, one that went for a loss, and one quarterback hit. He was also on the field for 67 snaps according to Pro Football Reference, which was by far the most he had all season long.

Looking ahead to 2021, Phillips should only see the field more. He’s not likely to beat out free-agent addition Anthony Walker or second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (who does play a much different role) but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him leapfrog Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson on the depth chart.

Should that happen, look for his natural instincts and solid tackling to endear him to fans in the Dawg Pound.

Phillips was the best tackler on a very good National Championship team at LSU and it’s just a matter of time before he becomes a star in this league.