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LSU Linebacker Jacob Phillips Walks into Youthful Browns Linebacker Room, Should Compete Right Away

Phillips to compete for starting WILL linebacker spot come training camp

Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry couldn’t have been more excited when the organization added a little more LSU flavor by drafting Grant Delpit and Jacob Phillips.

He told general manager Andrew Berry after the Phillips pick in particular, the team added a lot more “swagger.”

“Very excited. Very proud. Man, just watching their success that they've had over the years and then obviously this past year, winning the national championship and having the opportunity,” Landry said in an interview on ESPN’s First Take.

“I know the mentality and the type of guys that we drafted that are going to come in and be able to help us right away."

There's a reason Phillips will bring that confidence to the field as two years of starting experience in the SEC under his belt has helped him prepare for the next level. In that time, he became a tackling machine for the Tigers, collecting 200 total tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception.

After building a consistent resume with the Tigers, Phillips was drafted No. 97 overall by the Browns in the third round. Berry said Phillips fits what the organization was looking for in a linebacker prospect.

"Jacob, really has the physical characteristics of what we would consider our modern-era linebackers," Berry said. "He has length, athleticism and speed. A really rangy guy, who is also good in pass coverage. We love his ability to play in space. We love his ability to run. We think he is going to be a really good fit within our group.”

Browns Digest writer Pete Smith sees Phillips competing for the starting WILL linebacker job come training camp.

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Jacob Philips is coming in to compete for the WILL linebacker job, likely with Sione Takitaki, the team's third round pick from last season. The WILL in the Browns seems like it will perform many of the assignments did in that spot for the Bayou Bengals. Mostly focused on stopping the run, the Browns certainly appear to be a team that wants to utilize run stopping mostly as a subpackage and then go to a more pass oriented personnel group. Depending on how he develops in pass coverage, the more he might contribute. He should also contribute on special teams.

Smith went on to say that because Cleveland has a relatively young linebacker group, it gives Phillips an opportunity to compete right from the start. Projected starters Mack Wilson and BJ Goodson are only 22 and 26 years old respectively. 

It’s a group, that if it pans out, should be able to grow together for the foreseeable future.

"That was one of the key things that I wanted to accomplish coming out of the draft, to come into a situation where I can be given an opportunity," Phillips said. "I'm ready to work and ready to put in every ounce that I can to succeed and help the team win."

Unless the Browns sign another linebacker in free agency between now and training camp, which isn't out of the question, the linebacker group as a whole is quite young. It should make for an interesting competition if it's simply between Takitaki and Phillips for the WILL linebacker job. So while it's not expected that Phillips would start as a third round rookie, there's a path for him to see the field in his first season in the NFL.

With Delpit and Williams anchoring the secondary and Beckham Jr. and Landry on offense, Phillips will have plenty of friendly faces to help him adjust to NFL life. 

"That's my brother and I love playing with him," Phillips said of Delpit. "We made so many memories at LSU but I'm happy to take that next step and play with him. I know we pushed each other at LSU so I know we'll push each other in the league.

"It feels great having that LSU connection. It's something that most young players don't have and having those LSU guys there that are so close, I know that the older dudes will take me under their wing and really just show me the ropes."