Since Phillip Adams entered the NFL in 2010, it’s been tough sledding for the South Carolina State product. After playing for four teams in three years, he has yet to receive the respect that his abilities deserve.
This year, in his second season with the Oakland Raiders, that could all change.
A young, underrated cornerback with the untapped potential to be a starter, Adams is hoping to carve a niche for himself in the Raiders’ rebuilt secondary. Even with a first-round rookie and two seasoned veterans on the depth chart, the 24-year-old is primed for a breakout year.
Despite seeing limited snaps throughout the 2012 campaign, Adams showed glimpses of greatest amongst a weak Raiders secondary. Making 15 appearances (two starts), Adams racked up 15 tackles, five defended passes and two interceptions, including one on future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
The box score stats, however, are only a small part of the equation. According to Pro Football Focus, Adams finished the 2012 season with a 4.9 grade in pass coverage. He showed promise as the year progressed, playing well in his extended late-season snaps.
Adams also brings value as a punt returner, but should be slated for a significant bump in playing time on the defensive side of the ball this season.
It’s not going to be easy for Adams to earn a starting spot with D.J. Hayden atop the depth chart and veterans Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter pushing for the No. 2 gig. Not only does he not have the experience that Jenkins and Porter have, but his sample of playmaking is too small. The only way he’s going to earn significant snaps is by exceling during training camp and proving that he’s too talented to leave on the bench.
Adams gave the Raiders a glimpse of what he can do last season. If he can carry that momentum over into 2013, there’s no telling what type of impact he can make in his fifth NFL campaign.