When the Green Bay Packers let Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde leave in free agency the last two offseasons, most fans were accepting of the moves because they thought the depth in the secondary would allow Green Bay to replace them. However, the Packers have been severely lacking in playmakers since the departure of Hayward and Hyde, and the Green and Gold will need to look to address slot corner in the 2018 draft.
One intriguing prospect is Darius Phillips out of Western Michigan. Phillips is known for his ability to create turnovers, electricity in the return game, and being an impact player on offense. He made the transition from WR to CB during his Sophomore year, and you can see his natural progression from defender to receiver when the pass is in the air. Phillips tied an NCAA record with 5 Interceptions returned for touchdowns during his career.
When watching tape on Phillips you will see great route recognition, tremendous ball reaction, and a physicality when playing the ball. His 40 time will be interesting to see because the tape tends to show average straight line speed. He has great acceleration and agility, and he likes to press, so the potential is there for him to eventually develop into an outside CB. At the beginning of his career, I think he will largely work out of the slot.
Darius Phillips is currently being projected in the 4th-6th rounds. I think he’s going to work his way up some draft boards if he runs a good time in the 40 yard dash. I see a ton of similarities between his game and Casey Hayward’s coming out of college, and he could provide an impact player in the Nickel, a strong kick and punt returner, and perhaps even a gadget player for Aaron Rodgers to do some creative things with. It all adds up to Darius Phillips being a fantastic fit for the Green Bay Packers.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig