If you are going to build a championship franchise, you start with the quarterback. After that, you could go in a number of different directions, but putting together a stout defensive line would be near the top of the list.
Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips has the look of a guy who could be the key piece of a solid NFL defense for a decade.
Phillips is simply a disruptor on the defensive line. He's a physical and technical mismatch against most interior offensive linemen, thanks to his extensive wrestling background. He won multiple state and national wrestling titles while in high school in Nebraska. The skills he honed in wrestling translate to impeccable technique and leverage, allowing him to duck, shuck and swim by even the best offensive linemen he goes up against.
Once in the backfield, Phillips has an elite nose for the ball, piling up tackling stats you usually only see from linebackers. In 2017 alone, he collected 103 tackles and 7.5 sacks.
Some might consider Phillips to be a little on the light side (6-4, 255) for a defensive tackles, and that seems to be impacting where draft analysts are projecting him right now. He's widely looked at as a guy who could go in the late third or early fourth round, but some have him as a late first-rounder. His versatility is going to be what gives him a leg up when he's evaluated against other prospects. He's the sort of player who can stay on the field no matter what defensive front a team decides to employ.
Phillips can boost his stock at the NFL Scouting Combine by posting some fast times in cone drills and turning heads in the bench press. He's definitely a player to keep an eye on if you are a fan of a team that could use a playmaker or two along its defensive front four.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation and Bleacher Report. He has covered the Big Ten Conference extensively throughout his career. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.