Ravens rookie RG Tyre Phillips impressed in his debut and is only going to get better
Replace a future Hall of Famer in the starting lineup on either side of the ball at any position is never easy and is certainly no small task. It is an especially daunting responsibility to place on the shoulders of a player in his first season in the pros.
However, that is exactly what the Baltimore Ravens are asking of rookie Trye Phillips who they drafted out of Mississippi State with the last pick in the third round this past April. The rookie is tasked with replacing eight-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda, who retired this offseason, as the starting right guard on a Ravens’ offensive line that paved the way for the most dominant single-season rushing offense in league history in 2019, breaking individual and team records in the process.
Phillips is relatively new to the position after playing left tackle for the Bulldogs in college, but the Ravens saw the potential and versatility for him to move inside to the interior at the next level. The rookie competed with veteran DJ Fluker, a former first-round pick with plenty of experience at the guard, 2019 fourth-round pick Ben Powers, and fellow rookie Ben Bredeson for the starting job in training camp and emerged the victor.
He was rewarded with his first career start on Sunday and played a key role in the Ravens commanding 38-6 win over the Cleveland Browns in the season opener. For a player that had no prior experience at the position prior to joining the team, he did a ‘remarkable’ job against a tenacious and formidable Browns defensive line according to Head Coach John Harbaugh.
“To start on the offensive line as a rookie at a position that you didn’t play in college, it’s pretty remarkable,” Harbaugh said Monday after getting a chance to breakdown the tape of Sunday’s game. “He’s got a long way to go, he can improve so much. But I look at that as a real positive. He’s only going to get better.
A common attribute that many of the Ravens rookies share this year according to several members of the coaching staff dating back to virtual zoom meetings in the summer is that they are quick learners. Another one that many of them share is the ability to learn from the mistakes quickly and not repeat the same one twice.
Harbaugh praised Phillips for both his intelligence, attention to detail, and ability to learn from and correct his mistakes on the fly. He believes that he’s an incredible athlete who is going to get better and better with the more experience he gets.
“He’s really smart, he’s really a detail-oriented person. He’s the kind of guy that once he’s experienced it, he corrects it. He’s going to learn from every single snap that he takes. He had a few things, but he cleaned them up right away. He’s a heck of an athlete, really strong guy. He had a good game.”
The Ravens have historically been among the league’s best at drafting and signing undrafted offensive linemen that blossomed into stars, studs, and at least solid contributors or quality depth players at the NFL. Their keen eye for spotting college tackles that would be better suited and potentially dominate on the inside at guard has been especially impressive.
Two such players that fit that profile coming out of college and have gone on to have great careers in the pros are none other than Yanda himself who played right tackle for the Iowa Hawkeyes before being drafted by the Ravens in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft and former Raven Kelechi Osemele who played left tackle at Iowa State before he was drafted in the second round in 2012 and started 16 games at right tackle as a rookie during team’s run Superbowl before going on to become a perennial Pro Bowler at left guard.
While Phillips didn’t hail from a college passed in the state of Iowa where they seem to churn out elite offensive linemen and tight ends seemingly every year, he is starting on the same career path as the two aforementioned players and his future appears bright.
There is no replacing Yanda as a person, leader, and presence in the locker room but at least with Phillips, they have an exciting young talent that could be used at several different spots and could develop into another force in the interior of their offensive line with more coaching and experience under his belt.