Phillip Steward   LB   Houston

TALENT BOARD ROUND  2

 

STRENGTHS

Phillip is the type of player who plays bigger than his size because of his unusually long arms for his size.  He is naturally strong and his techniques at the point of attack are excellent.  He has very good speed and change of direction skill, which makes it easy for him to be used as a blitzing linebacker to sack the quarterback or flush him out of the pocket and into his teammatesí waiting arms.  He was used a lot in coverage for his college team taking on the slot receivers of just about any size.  He shows excellent leadership skills.  Phillip has the athletic talent to play linebacker for all three downs.  In fact, on third downs, if a team wants to play a 4-2-5 defense, Phillip has the skills to stay on the field as one of the linebackers in that style of defense.  Phillip is a head up, wrap up, squeeze and drive tackler and he is impressive in his ability to play the run.  Phillip is smart and uses his long arms (locked out) to play with his bigger opponent on sweeps until he sees the right time to shed and make a tackle or turn the play into the inside.  Itís perfect technique, and because of his long arms and natural strength, he is able to stop sweeps and split double teams on screen plays in the open field effortlessly.  Phillip seems to have naturally strong hands that make it easy to handle bigger players when he is shedding them to make a tackle.  He is an excellent weakside linebacker and, because of his athletic talent and football intelligence, I believe he could play more than one linebacker position if needed.

 

CONCERNS

Phillipís impact position at the next level is a weakside linebacker.  This may mean that teams that do not value that position as highly as other positions will not rate Phillip as high as I do.  Also, Phillip just makes the size/speed ratio that most teams go by in evaluating linebackers for the next level, which may also affect where some teams will rate him for the next level.  There is no problem with his play; there is plenty of tape on him, but teams will be cautious because of his size and the quality of competition that Phillip has played against.  Phillip reminds me of Jon Beason, LB Panthers -- only he is faster and stronger (see original profile for Jon Beason in THR Archives to compare to Phillip).  

 

BOTTOM LINE

Phillip is a football player.  There is no other way to say it.  When Jon Beason came out and was selected in the 1st round, he did a hell of a job until injuries and moving him around appeared to impact his play. Phillip is further ahead in athletic talent, strength and football intelligence than Jon was when he was drafted; therefore, I know he can play more than one linebacker position.  That being said, itís best to think of Phillip as an OLB to keep him free of traffic and let him make plays on the outside.  Understand also that the quality of competition that Jon Beason played against, in comparison to the quality of play Phillip has played against, will make a difference in how teams evaluate Phillip.  Nevertheless, Phillip has excellent instincts and has no problem taking on bigger guards and tackles, running sweeps and screens because he understands how to use his size and athleticism to his advantage.  As I said, Phillip is a football player and selecting him in any round is adding a talented starting player to your team.  Isn't that what the draft is all about?

  

Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart

Apr/2013