Falcons Day 3 draft pick dubbed potential rookie starter

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The Falcons brought in a six-player draft class and can expect two to immediately contribute. Bijan Robinson and Matthew Bergeron should be starters the moment they step on the field, but there is another member of the rookie class that could carve out a starting role — Clark Phillips III.

NFL.com’s Chad Reuter explored which Day 3 rookies can expect to compete for a starting spot, and Atlanta’s fourth-round pick was his top-ranked option:

Phillips was one of the top defenders in college football during his Utah career. His size (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and average speed (4.51-second 40-yard dash) predictably pushed him into the fourth round, but I expect him to make plays from the slot in training camp and preseason games, reading routes and the eyes of quarterbacks to earn the nod as the starting nickel back.

Clark Phillips is an exciting player to watch, displaying elite ball skills and a tough, gritty attitude, despite the small frame. He dropped in the draft because of his size and speed, but the Falcons clearly see a guy who can flat out play football.

Reuter isn’t alone in projecting Phillips as a potential starter in 2023. Former NFL GM Rick Spielman echoed similar sentiments.

Mike Hughes will be Phillips’ stiffest competition, but he’s not exactly the most sure-fire option; he’s bounced around the league for a reason. The Falcons won’t force Clark Phillips into a role he’s not ready for, but they’ll give him every opportunity to take the starting role.

If Phillips doesn’t seize the starting nickel position, it’s not the end of the world; he will eventually take over those responsibilities.

Photographer: Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire

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