The Houston Texans may have found a power running back gem in Scottie Phillips.
The Houston Texans needed another running back in the 2020 NFL Draft but they hadn’t drafted one. Their current backs, Duke Johnson and David Johnson, are both good pass catchers who can run outside. With the loss of Carlos Hyde, they needed someone who could run up the middle.
They signed only one player in free agency following the draft and, at first, Scottie Phillips out of Ole Miss seemed a curious choice. Standing at a mere 5-8 and weight in at just a hair over 200 pounds, Phillips didn’t totally look the part of a power running back. His senior year in Oxford, his production was little to write home about as injuries limited him to just 570 rushing yards.
Phillips’ lack of stature, however, was not obvious at the NFL Combine. He put up more bench press reps than any other running back in attendance.
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Moreover, as noted by Grayson Weir of Red Cup Rebellion, Phillips has a ton to offer as a player on the field beyond being able to just lift weights:
His patience, vision and shiftiness are the three key attributes that make him an instinctive runner who can be a handful to bring down. Phillips stacks powerful, firm-planted moves to evade potential tacklers and hit a cutback lanes hard. When he gets to the edge he is a very comfortable outside runner and is fluid in space.
On the field, though, Phillips has shown what he’s capable of. While his senior season left a lot to the imagination, his junior campaign was impressive as his first career game for the Rebels saw him produce 204 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, an Ole Miss record for yards in a debut.
The running back finished the 2018 season with 14 all-purpose touchdowns (12 rushing) while amassing 927 rushing yards and averaging 5.3 yards per carry over his two-year stint with the program.
Watching Phillips conjures memories of a short, stout and effective back who gained more than 8,000 yards for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Maurice Jones-Drew. The Texans would love to see that type of player emerge in Houston with Phillips.
Houston made a similar move several years ago when they landed Arian Foster out of Tennessee as an undrafted free agent. Like Phillips, Foster struggled as a senior largely due to injuries after a productive and effective junior season. But by 2010, Foster was leading the league in rushing. The Texans are hoping that Scottie Phillips will be their next diamond in the rough in the backfield.