Clark Phillips was a top prospect before 2023, is he a Cowboys fit?

The Dallas Cowboys have turned a question mark into a strength with potentially excellent depth. Trevon Diggs was already the top corner on the roster, and now that he is paired with Stephon Gilmore the Cowboys sport one of the top duos in the league. Add last season’s breakout performer, DaRon Bland, veteran Jourdan Lewis, and hybrid defensive back Israel Mukuamu and Dallas has an excellent corner room for 2023.

That impressive depth is boosted by the potential upside of two top-100 picks from 2021 in Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright. As of now, they are bubble guys; that says a ton about the depth in front of them. However that depth doesn’t mean the club should be done thinking about the position. Three of the five names are set to be free agents at the end of this coming season and Dallas needs to keep the pipeline churning. A third young player to pair with Diggs and Bland for the long-term would be a perfect addition.

The one piece missing could be a player like Clark Phillips III. A 5-foot-10, 183 pound corner would previously be seen as a slot only guy, but in today’s NFL that guy can now also slide outside if the match up is against a smaller, quicker WR. Here’s a look at whether Phillips has what it takes to be that level of player.

Measurables, Stats, and Combine results

Listed Height: 5-foot-9

Listed Weight: 183 pounds

Games Played in 2022: 12

Jersey Number: 1

Impact Plays (2022): 6 interceptions, 6 passes defensed, 2 tackle for a loss, 142 yards allowed, 2 touchdown returns

Stat (2022): 16 solo tackles, 8 assisted tackles, 24 total tackles

40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds

10-yard split: 1.51 seconds

Vertical Jump: 33″

20-Yard Shuttle: 4.32

Bench Press: 18 reps

Relative Athletic Score: Comparison vs Lewis, McDuffie

Entering 2022, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler saw Phillips as a potential McDuffie comparison, due to their similar height/weight/length profiles. Athletically though Phillips doesn’t measure up. Athletically he is much closer to the man he’d theoretically be in line to replace, Lewis.

Film Study Information

Games Watched: Ohio St (2021), Oregon State (2022), Oregon (2022), Florida (2022)

Best Game: Oregon State (2022)

Worst Game: Florida (2022)

Film Study: Phillips vs Florida (2022) - Worst Game

Clark Phillips vs Jordan Addison 2022 x2 (Regular Season, Bowl game)


Dallas fans are familiar with Phillips III’s top strength, being a ball hawk, because they’ve seen it with Diggs for the past three seasons. Like Diggs, Phillips III was a converted receiver who has been able to take those qualities to defense. He tracks the ball well, has an inside knowledge on route combinations, and understands what to look for in a receiver’s route transitions.

He ended his career with nine interceptions, four of which he took back for a touchdown. That shows his ability to be a playmaker, with an almost 50% return for touchdown rate on all his picks.

Phillips III has a “top dog” style that keeps him working at his craft. Whether it is how he is first in and last out of the facility, or how he shows up in the biggest moments of the most important games. Cornerbacks ] the size of Phillips III are typically relagated to the slot, but the mentality he has, plus his physicality made him strong enough to be an outside corner at Utah.

He is good in press due to his mix of strength and leverage. It allows him to disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage, and he carries that battle all the way down field in man coverage with excellent attack at the point of the catch. He is going to make opposing receivers work all game long.


While it hasn’t really limited him at the college level, Phillips III’s main weakness is still his size. As good as he is, if he gets matched up on a receiver like Mike Evans, it is going to be an issue. There is only so much an under 5-foot-10 corner with shorter arms and a 33″ vertical can do. If a team throws a fifty-fifty ball to the better, taller, wide out, Phillips III is going to have issues.

He also gives up too much separation at times on underneath routes for a prospect with his talent. Opposing receivers crossed his face too quickly in some contests and he can get too far back in trail on crossers as well. That will have to be limited if he is going to be a slot corner mostly in the NFL.

His belief in himself, and his study habits, can lead him to be overaggressive and allow big plays on his mistakes. Another similar trait to Diggs, offenses could succeed in baiting Phillips III with looks that show one play but he doesn’t diagnose until too late.

The overaggressive issues don’t stop at his attacking mentality, but his physicality down field as well. There is a chance that how he hand fights, and attacks defenders at the catch point, could lead to penalties.

Fit with the Cowboys

Phillips III doesn’t fit what the Cowboys traditionally want from a CB. Dallas almost exclusively targets corners who are tall, lengthy, athletes that look like Cover 3 corners. Lately though, the front office has shown a willingness to break from those traditions.

Dallas has solid sized, lengthy, athletic players who can move around and cover almost anybody. They have very tall, Cover-3 cover guys, but with receivers like DeVonta Smith, Jahan Dotson, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Jamison Crowder within the division. Phillips III could be the type of match up corner the defense is missing right now.



Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire