Kyle Philips Draft Profile
UCLA: Wide Reciever
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There is this receiver that’s not fast but runs impeccable routes and has super glue hands. He is also a savvy player that produced good stats in college despite his physical limitations. He is projected to ONLY play slot and will one day, MAYBE, become a starter one day in the NFL.
That’s what was said about Cooper Kupp before he was drafted in the third round in 2017 and that is what is being said about Kyle Philips this year heading into the draft. Is Philips Cooper Kupp? Probably not. Kupp’s college production at Eastern Washington dwarfs Philips at UCLA and Kupp was a much more developed product coming out of college than Philips is today. But Philips does have some intriguing upside because of the traits he does bring to the table.
NFL.com’s reporter Bill Smith and others have comped his ceiling to Hunter Renfrow. Setting aside the media’s propensity to comp white receivers to other white receivers, Renfrow did put together an impressive 103 catch, 1,038 yards in his third year in the league. If that is Philip’s top end, he will very quickly become a starter in the NFL.
Philips juiced his draft stock with his performance during the Shrine Bowl. He put on display his route running, body control, and overall dependability. He did end up missing the game, but the practice is all he needed to make his splash into the nation draft conversation. In settings such as the NFLPA Bowl and the Shrine Bowl, talent makes itself evident and Philips proved to be head and shoulders above the cornerbacks that he went up against. While the talent pool at the Shrine Bowl is a mixed bag, Philips was able to make a fool out of one of the top secondary prospects in the country in UCLA’s game against LSU.
Kyle Philips COOKED LSU's defense 🤯
UCLA is pulling away
— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) September 5, 2021
In contrast, his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine was underwhelming. He only confirmed to everyone what was already evident. Not a bad thing, but also nothing to further raise the eyebrows of scouts.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler projects Kyle Philips to go in the fourth round. The Draft Network gives him a third-round rating. While Walter Football hasn’t graded him at all.
Top Three Kyle Philips NFL Draft Traits
Controlling the Line of Scrimmage
This is where Philips wins against defensive backs. Firstly, he has elite-level foot speed. This allows him to gain the initial step toward separation. Secondly, he has wiggle and twitch that allow him to destabilize his man. Lastly, he has an unusual amount of burst for a 4.58, 40 guy. That 40 time puts him in the 41st percentile among wide receivers, but his 20-yard split puts him in the 87th and his 10-yard split puts him in the 97th percentile. His 1.55 10-yard split was just .08 seconds behind that of Tyquan Thorton. Thornton posted the best 40 time among wide receivers at the combine.
This skill set is ideal for a slot receiver. Philips can create space and get open quickly. This is always handy if the quarterback needs a reliable receiver to dump the ball off to. This helped him excel as a third and medium and third and short option.
Job one of a receiver: Catch the damn ball and Kyle Philips nearly always does. He makes it look pretty effortless, but of course, many skills go into making it look that way. He possesses high-end hand-eye coordination and good vision as well as a sense of timing in his routes. While he doesn’t have the kind of overwhelming physical bigness of some receivers, he brings big dog energy to every fight. On contested catches, he uses the sheer force of will to come up with the catches.
This grit comes across in all aspects of the game, including as a blocker.
This may be his most interesting trait. His body control allows him to win in a few ways. Traditionally, when a receiver’s body control is invoked it has to do with the ability to shift his body to get his hands in the right spot. Philips does this. He also has great spacial awareness for the sidelines and the sticks. Philips maintains control after leaving his feet, as well. This makes for some impressive acrobatic catches.
The other aspect of his body control allows him to stay on his feet and turn short catches into big plays. He was one of the top receivers in the Pac-12 in yards after the catch, with 355. He also had several explosive plays last season. His longest was 75 yards, but he also had plays of 47, 45, and 42 yards.
Three Traits to Develop
Every day three or day four draft pick has the one thing that they have leaned too much. For Kyle Philips, it is his fast footwork. And in the college and high school games, he could mesmerize corners with it, but once he goes up against experienced corners, that will cease to work. Excessive steps are inefficient and NFL talent won’t be bewildered by them.
Kyle Philips weighed in at the combine at 189. To be successful in the NFL he will need to pack on some more muscle. It has to be noted that players have benchmarks they want to hit at the combine. Philips likely did what he could to literally tip the scales to a heavier weight. At the Shrine Bowl, he didn’t look 189 and most likely, his true weight sits around 185 or under.
At whatever his actual weight is, he gets moved around far too much and muscle will help lessen that. The tricky part will be for him to add weight without sacrificing the things that make him special.
Weight is a controllable tangible. Height and arm length are not. Philips is 5’11” with 29 5/8th” arms. Plenty of guys under six feet have had fantastic careers in football, but that arm length puts Philips in the bottom seven percentile of wide receivers (and fourth percentile by his size) that have participated in the NFL Combine. That severely limits his catch radius and also limits how a quarterback can throw to him. Often you will hear an announcer say, the quarterback put it where he knew only his receiver could catch it. With Philips, the quarterback has to put it on his hands.
He will have to build on top of what he already does well to overcome that and hope he ends up with an extremely accurate passer.
Kyle Philips would be a great get in the fourth round for the Rams. For one, he is a competent enough player to bolster a shaky return game. His ability in the slot would open up some interesting options with Cooper Kupp to play more outside receiver. Perhaps he could be a decoy underneath in third-down situations or early on in catch-and-run plays.
Speaking of Kupp, who better to mentor Philips than him. With a few years under Kupp’s wing, he could be an option for a long-term replacement at the position.