Former IU slot man could be a late-round selection on Saturday
For four years, Whop Philyor was Indiana’s man over the middle.
The 5-foot-11 slot receiver climbed several of the program’s career leaderboards, finishing his college run ranked fourth at IU in receptions (180) and 100-yard games (seven), and ninth in yardage (2,067). Meanwhile, no Hoosier in school history accumulated more double-digit catch games than Philyor’s seven. He was, more often than not, a major part of what IU wanted to do offensively.
Although Philyor, like the rest of his senior classmates across the country, had an opportunity to return to IU for an NCAA-gifted fifth season, the Tampa native decided he had left his mark on the rejuvenated football program in Bloomington. Now, Philyor is hoping his body of work in the Big Ten is enough to get him picked during this weekend’s NFL Draft.
Philyor is in a similar position as a handful of his former IU teammates in that he’s likely to get a look from an NFL team this spring. It’s just not clear whether his upcoming hire will come through the seven-round draft or the free agency wire. Receiver is arguably the deepest position group in this spring’s draft pool, and it’s expected that there will still be several intriguing, high-upside prospects still available when the draft nears its conclusion on Saturday afternoon. So where might that leave Philyor? Good question!
Pro Football Focus ranks Philyor as the No. 258 overall player in this year’s class, the Draft Network pegs him as the No. 264 overall prospect, and Pro Football Network considers him to be the No. 266 player available. For context, there will be 259 selections made in this year’s draft. So Philyor might be cutting it close.
However Philyor is acquired, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com believes the former Hoosier’s greatest selling point could be as a special teamer:
Positives: Diminutive receiver who was also effective as a return specialist. Smooth and fluid, runs sharp routes, and separates from defenders. Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and contorts to come away with the difficult catch. Easily adjusts and makes the reception in stride. Displays strong hands as well as the ability to pull the ball from the air.
Negatives: More quick than fast and lacks a second gear. Occasionally, takes his eyes off the ball, which results in dropped passes. Gives effort blocking but really doesn’t get results
Among Big Ten receivers who saw the majority of their snaps in the slot, Philyor had the fifth-highest receiving grade in the league this past fall (71.5) and the third-highest in 2019 (77.9), per Pro Football Focus. Much of Philyor’s production came between the numbers and in front of the first-down markers. Over the past two years, Philyor caught 39 of the 51 short-center passes targeted for him for 391 yards and two scores, according to PFF. On passes caught one-to-nine yards past the line of scrimmage, Philyor also racked up 263 yards after the catch during that same span.
At IU’s Pro Day in early April, Philyor reportedly ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, according to the data compiled at NFLcombineresults.com, which was a little slower than he hoped to show. But there are a lot of other points of interest in Philyor’s college receiving profile that could make him an interesting player at the next level.
This weekend, one way or another, Philyor will hope that opportunity is quick to come.
Philyor Draft Profile
Weight: 180 pounds
NFL.com assessment, per Lance Zierlein
Pound-for-pound tough guy from the slot.
Smooth strider into his drive mode off the snap.
Eludes route redirection with subtle dip and shoulder turn.
Alters route speed to rock coverage to sleep.
Plays with understanding of route concepts and leverage.
High-octane burst over the top from the slot.
Shows ability to find second gear and run under long ball.
Outfielder’s instincts to track the ball and adjust mid-flight.
Mindful to protect the catch once he’s got it.
Fails to create enough indecision from coverage at the stem.
Gives up the angle when drifting from his turns.
Needs to learn to adjust route according to the coverage.
Gives away too much of his catch space in contested catches.
Size can eat him up at the catch point.
Hands are a little less consistent than you would like.
Gives in a little earlier than he needs to after the catch.