Harrison Phillips, the third-round pick and the only player the Buffalo Bills selected on Day two of the 2018 NFL Draft spoke to the Buffalo media Friday night. He touches on being compared to Kyle Williams, how he clicked with Sean McDermott, and more.
Here is what the rookie had to say in his conference call with Buffalo media:
Q: Brandon Beane mentioned that you were pretty emotional on the phone. What was the moment like when you got the call from the Bills?
Phillips: The phone rang and we immediately muted the TV and as soon as I heard that it was the Buffalo Bills, it was an extremely humbling experience. There was all this excitement and before I could even say a word, I just choked up and could barely get anything out. I think he made a joke, like “are you ok?” and I said “Yeah, I’m fine, I’m just oozing with excitement.”
Q: How much of a connection did you feel right away with you being a former standout high school wrestler and coach [Sean] McDermott having that same background and you both sharing a Nebraska background as well?
Phillips: I think that there’s a lot of parallels in the whole organization with Coach [Leslie] Frazier, coach McDermott and coach [Bill] Teerlinck and all these guys that I met with before. I think so highly of them and yes, the first time I met coach McDermott, he tried to hit an outside single on me and he knocked a water bottle out of my hand. I was unprepared for that but if we ever have a round two, I’ll be ready.
Q: Brandon Beane mentioned that you wrote the team a letter after your meeting. What did you say to them?
Phillips: I’m sure if he just disclosed that as confidential, I’ll do the same, but it was just telling him that I’m ready to bring my lunch pail to work every day and I’m ready to do anything that they need me to do in that organization. I’m a big believer in Bills Mafia and I’ve seen the moves that they’ve made in this off season and I’m just anxious and excited to try and just contribute in any way that I can.
Q: Did you do that for a lot of teams or were the Bills the only team that got a letter from you?
Phillips: They were one of the only ones that I was really excited about, especially talking with Trent Murphy – a former Stanford guy too. I was already texting with him this evening and we are just all excited and I’m just so blessed to be in this situation.
Q: You’ve been compared a lot up here to Kyle Williams. Well before you were drafted, a lot of people thought that you could come in here and be that kind of player. Do you know about Kyle, do you know about his game and what so, if that’s the case?
Phillips: I couldn’t ever accept that term right now, to be compared to someone as fantastic as Kyle Williams. I think that his career is one that’s going to go down in the history books, so to be able to come in and try to get under his wing and try to learn some of the things that he’s been able to do and be successful with…I’m so excited to do that. I know that that whole defensive front has a whole wealth of knowledge and if I could just try and pick all their brains, I hope that I could just come in and contribute.
Q: When we talked at the Senior Bowl, you said that your position was like being the fire hydrant at the dog show cause everyone is coming up and pissing on you all the time. Brandon Beane said he wants to see you maybe move around the d-line. Do you want to embrace maybe having more of a flashy pass rusher role in the NFL?
Phillips: I think so, that that’s kind of where the game is going. It’s a passing league and everything revolving around the quarterback is where the game is. It’s quarterbacks number one, left tackles number two, then pass rushers number three…who can attack the quarterback, you can protect the quarterback. The games revolving around the quarterback and as you see, we traded up to get an amazing quarterback in Josh Allen right off the bat. So we have that piece in and they will come in and compete as well and we are all just very humbled to be here. I’m just excited.
Q: What do you know about Buffalo, New York?
Phillips: I’ve never been. I haven’t gone much to the east coast, except for wrestling. All I know is I’m going to look in my closet and there’s not too many of the same clothes that I wore at Stanford that I’ll be able to wear in Buffalo. I think I’m going to get some winter coats out from high school.
Q: What would Bills fans be most excited to see in your game?
Phillips: I think to the previous question before, if the staff that you guys mentioned are excited about the dynamic ability that I might be able to have to be able to do more than one thing, try to learn some flash and get upfield and be disruptive and things like that. I think that’s something that the Bills fans should be excited about. I know the coaching staff is fantastic and so I feel like I can come in with all my tools and do exactly what they tell me to do and the way that they tell me to do it. Like I said earlier, the guys that they have on that defensive line, working with the Kyle Williams, working with Trent Murphy coming in. These are pass rush specialists who have proved that they can disrupt the quarterback. I’m really anticipating getting in there, working under this coaching staff and yeah, showing that flash, showing that the Stanford defense didn’t allow me to go upfield. I had to play within the defense and I did that to the best of my ability. Now learning a new defense, I’m going to try to plug in and play and do whatever they want me to do however they want me to do it.
Q: Harrison, the next time you see Sean McDermott, are you going to try to get him with a move of your own for retribution?
Phillips: You know, I don’t think that’s the best thing to do. I think I’ll just give him such a big hug that he thinks I’m hitting him with a lat drop or something like that. He might be on his toes a little bit.
Q: You were the only defensive tackle in the FBS with over 100 tackles this year. What allowed you to do that?
Phillips: I tip my hat first to my teammates for allowing double teams to come off me, so that they couldn’t just stay on blocks, they had to go block the other guys around me. I also tip my hat to our coaching staff to know that I’m not just a 330-pound nose guard who can stay in there. You have some attributes to you game that we can allow you to make some plays. But personally, I think my passion for the game allowed me to do it. I wanted the tackles, I wanted the hard work. I think the passion fueled me in the offseason to put in all the minor details and trust the process. Then the passion I have to watch film and anticipate plays. I try to pride myself in watching as much film as I can so I never see something I’m not ready for. I hope to use that at the next level. Actually,Trent Murphy came back for a game and he showed me how to watch film even better, so I can’t wait to start that relationship.
Q: You had the most reps at the Combine with 42. Was that a goal of yours?
Phillips: The number 42 or to be the highest reps there?
Q: To be the highest reps and what was your goal?
Phillips: You guys understand the situation that we’re put in to there, you’re never at your peak physical performance, but I had hit in the 50’s prior to that, but those were kind of some false lockout and wasn’t all the way through. They were very strict at the combine and I think that the blue collar, hardworking, chip on the shoulder type of mentality that I had has carried with me. I didn’t want to just have the highest bench, I wanted to have the highest vertical, I wanted to run the fastest short shuttle and L cone too. I think that competition is extremely important.
Q: What is your one rep max on the bench?
Phillips: I don’t have a crazy high one rep max and that’s a lot to thank for the positives because of the strength program we’ve had at Stanford under Shannon Turley. We do a lot of eccentrics, slow pause on the chest, things like that. I’m over 400, but I’m not a 6-700 pound bencher by any means. Functionality and injury prevention is a big part of his philosophy.
Q: Sam Darnold got drafted by the rival New York Jets, are you excited to get a few more cracks at him?
Phillips: I’m excited to get the opportunity to get any of these guys to be honest. Sam Darnold is an amazing player too and I think I’m very happy with our quarterback. It’ll be fun to be chasing him around again, yeah.