It probably goes without saying that if an NFL fan could be a fly on the wall for one day, the vast majority would choose the war room on draft day. There are so many variables that take place in that room we don’t see so when a team executive explains the process, it’s fascinating to hear. Shortly after the Miami Dolphins chose defensive tackle Jordan Phillips in the second round, general manager Dennis Hickey did just that.
“Obviously in the second round, we moved down and acquired some picks. Then we selected Jordan Phillips, a defensive tackle out of Oklahoma, a big talented defensive tackle with a lot of ability. We brought in him on a visit and really liked what he brought to the table. We feel like he can really learn from our defensive line, the veteran group that it is, and he truly was the best player available on our board. We took him and we almost had an earthquake up there, the defensive coaches trying to break down the walls, they were so excited. Again, a talented player, really excited to get him in with our coaches and work with him. We really like what he brings from a size, strength, ability to hold point, with also having athleticism and ability to rush the passer.”
Hickey said that when it was time for them to pick, they looked at their board and had a good feeling about where certain players would land before they would have a chance to get on the clock again. That made it easier to make the deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We looked at our board. We saw what it was and we felt like we were in a good enough position to, you’re always, every time you’re up, can we move down? You always want more picks. Do we feel like are we still going to like the board wherever we trade down to? We felt that way. We were fortunate the board pretty much stayed the same. Jordan was the top player on the board.”
Some fans and even media personalities were upset the Dolphins didn’t draft a player at a different position but Hickey said they place their own value on each individual player and then follow the board in that manner. A big reason why their value was high on Phillips because of the skillset he brings onto the field against opposing offenses. Despite the concerns about Phillips’ lack of consistency, Hickey said that they look at everything with the player, including the scheme he played in and what he was asked to do.
“He was strong. Again, sometimes you have to look at how they’re played within the scheme, and what their responsibility is within that scheme especially playing in a 3-4 where his job was to occupy blockers. You always look for the motivation within a player and that’s part of the reason you bring him in for a visit and we always talk about what shaped him. He has a very interesting story and as you get to know the player. Again, you see the talent, you see the flashes. Our job is to get him to do it on a consistent basis. When you talked with the kid, you really saw that passion, and a guy hungry to get better and to learn from our players but also learn from our coaches and ready to help contribute to our team.”
Phillips has had back issues in the past, even having to undergo surgery in 2013. However, Hickey said that all of his medical tests came back fine.
“Like with all of our players, we sit down with our medical staff, two weeks out, then a week out, then this week, just going over each and seeing what are the issues and how everything goes into that. You weigh in part of that. He passed with them and we were fine taking him.”
With Jordan on the field with the rest of the defensive line, Hickey and the coaching staff are expecting big things from him and the others in an effort to become the most dominant line in the NFL.
“You’re talking about a lot of talented players, pro bowl players, proven players in their prime, and continuing to add to them with another talented, young player. It’s a veteran group with a lot of talent but a lot of experience and great guys to learn from. That’s one of the first things Jordan talked about was how excited he was to learn from those guys. We want him to come in and compete and be the best Jordan Phillips that he can be. That’s job number one. We want him to learn our schemes and learn our techniques and contribute.”
If he can do that, this line will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs