Kyle Philips Has Been Uncoverable At Shrine Bowl

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After two days of practices for the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas, one thing seems clear: UCLA wide receiver Kyle Philips can’t be guarded.

Philips showed a lot of promise in his college career, consistently putting his good route-running, explosiveness, speed, and hands on display. While at UCLA, his skill set made him a great go-to target for his quarterback on quick passes, but he really possessed an ability to command all three levels of the field. It was Philips’ excellent route-running and solid speed that could create the separation he needed to secure a catch at any level, but he was truly dangerous in his ability to generate yards after the catch.

The southern California native is as slippery as they come. To put it simply, he just makes defenders miss. He’s got good instincts and is quick and explosive enough to take advantage of over-pursuing defenders in the secondary, messing with their momentum with quick stutter steps and cutbacks.

Here at the Shrine Bowl, he’s been showing off all of those skills. Philips has been a total monster in one-on-one drills. His smooth footwork off the line of scrimmage has him creating immediate separation before taking off downfield as soon as he’s fooled his defender with sudden stops and starts. Philips has also been finding gaps in zone defenses in practice, settling in open grass to receive the catch, and then generating extra yards after the catch like he always did in college. These skills he’s shown off in Las Vegas in these first two days have led our own Brentley Weissman to the conclusion that he simply can’t be covered.

The biggest drawback to Philips as a prospect is his size—he’s on the smaller side of receivers at 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds. He’s not super physical, and he’s looked like a more comfortable receiver out of the slot. He knows it. Philips mentioned how he gets comparisons to similar-bodied players in the NFL like Hunter Renfrow and Cole Beasley because of their abilities to produce from the slot as smaller receivers.

“I truly love how intentional they both are with all their movements. There’s no wasted movement. Everything they do is for a reason, whether it’s with their eyes, their head, how they’re leaning, everything has a purpose,” Philips said.

He’s also worked to model parts of his game after Keenan Allen, specifically the skip-step moves he employs to freeze a defensive back at the top of his routes. Or Davante Adams, whose release package Philips has tried to add to his arsenal. Just don’t try to put him in a box, confined solely to a role in the slot.

“What I’ve really been emphasizing here is showing that I am that complete receiver,” Philips said. “I’ve been playing outside, I’ve been making plays on the outside, so I wanted teams to see that I really am a whole receiver. I can do it all. Put me there, and I’ll go do it.”

To that end, Philips has put a heavy emphasis on learning the whole playbook for his Shrine Bowl practices.

“I just want to be on the field, whether that’s outside, in the slot, wherever I just want to play football,” he said.

One thing that’s helped in that process is his time at UCLA under head coach Chip Kelly. Philips specifically cited the “crazy offense” Kelly employs as something that forced him to learn a lot of plays and learn them fast. As a result, learning the offense here for the Shrine Bowl has been a breeze.

Another big influence on Philips has been fellow East Team wide receiver Charleston Rambo. The two have been having a sort of friendly competition on the practice field, each one pushing the other to complete the better rep on each play.

They’ve been learning from each other too, often discussing their techniques when running routes and how they’ll try to set up defenders with their eyes pre- and post-snap. Considering the two have pretty much been the consensus best two receivers at Shrine Bowl thus far, the two of them learning from each other will only make each one of them even more dangerous.

We’re only two days into Shrine Week practices, but Philips has made himself some money with his play so far. If he continues to perform the way he already has this weekend and proves his abilities as a complete receiver—both in the slot and outside—he should see a nice bump in his draft stock.

Written By:

Jack McKessy

Staff Writer

Jack McKessy is a recent graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism who grew up in Washington, D.C. As a student, he covered Northwestern’s football, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, and baseball teams. Previously, he was in charge of social media and contributed to both written and multimedia content creation for La Vida Baseball in Chicago. He has also assisted in the production of promotional content for the Big Ten Network. Jack initially joined the TDN team as an intern during the 2020 season. Now, he writes columns—primarily analysis of the New York Giants—and helps run TDN's YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

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