The Kenny Phillips Story: A Truly Tragic First-Round NFL Bust

By Joe Doris
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Just five years ago, FS Kenny Phillips was the hands-down, consensus number one safety entering the 2008 NFL Draft, after a brilliant collegiate career with the Miami Hurricanes. Phillips was a two-time First-team All-ACC selection (2006, 2007) as well as a Sporting News Freshman All-American (2005).

The New York Giants drafted the highly-touted young phenom with the 31st overall pick (first round) of the 2008 draft. And they’ve been regretting it ever since.

While defensive linemen and linebackers typically have very high NFL bust-ratios, safeties and cornerbacks tend to be less risky because supreme athleticism and coverage skills are more easily recognizable at any level of football.

But Phillips has just been awful over a span of five grueling, humiliating professional seasons. The first-round pick has only recorded eight interceptions and 26 pass deflections throughout his entire five-year NFL journey, and has never scored a defensive touchdown or forced a fumble. Just an absolutely horrendous career.

The Philadelphia Eagles decided to give Phillips another shot at relevance in 2013, signing him to a minuscule contract in free agency. Too bad Phillips couldn’t even make the 75-man cut, let alone remain on the Birds final 53-man roster.

I will not be surprised if some NFL team decides to sign Phillips for next-to-nothing, either this season or next, but his window to remain a legitimate starter has officially shut. In reality, he is more or less just early-training-camp, sign-and-cut material at this point.

It’s always upsetting to a see a former first-round draft pick disappoint this greatly, but most of the time the demise of a monster-prospect has to do with general laziness, immaturity and an unwillingness to progress.

Phillips is easily the worst free safety selected in the NFL Draft’s first round since he entered the league in 2008.


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