Senior Bowl Scouting Report: Phidarian Mathis
Phidarian Mathis balled out in his senior season with the Alabama Crimson Tide and now he heads to Mobile for the Senior Bowl to begin his journey to the NFL. The versatile defensive lineman made quarterbacks "Phil It" all season to the tune of nine sacks.
Showing out as an interior pass-rushing threat is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of NFL scouts. Tack on exceptional leadership quality and Mathis translates to the next level quite well.
Check out the scouting graphic for Mathis and we'll follow up with some analysis of his most prominent strengths and weaknesses.
Mathis's 80.2 grade on my scale makes him a low-grade second-round pick. Luckily for him, one of the most beloved practice events at the Senior Bowl is pass protection one-on-ones, an area where he should really shine with his length and agility. On most boards, Mathis is a solid second-round pick with a high upside to possibly get as high as the 30s.
Starting with Mathis's strengths, he's a great pass rusher. Not many players in the Nick Saban era have hit nine sacks or more. To do so from the interior is a serious accomplishment.
Mathis utilizes a wide variety of moves and angles to find his way to the quarterback. His pulls, rips and swims are all technically sound and well-timed. Mathis has a high football IQ and displays it by knowing what move to use based on his setup, matchup and situation.
On top of being a great interior threat, his versatility in Saban's patented 3-4 scheme was on full display. He reliably played all positions and was a key player in the attack. Pete Golding utilized a stunt that allowed Will Anderson to shock the inside and sent Mathis outside, but on occasion, the big guy could stretch the outside and snag the edge.
While his versatility lends to his advantage, his future in the NFL by my estimation is as a modern nose tackle. Today's nose tackles aren't big lumbering space eaters but are instead more versatile in application while still managing both A gaps. Think of a guy like Javon Hargrave with the Philadelphia Eagles. That is what Mathis can be at the next level.
Read More: Senior Bowl Scouting Report: Brian Robinson
Where Mathis loses me is his overall flexibility as an athlete. Open field situations aren't prevalent for defensive linemen, except when attacking quarterbacks. Bringing down the likes of Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes in the NFL has way more to do with sudden change of target than beating an offensive lineman and a crisp pursuit angle. See here as Mathis completely whiffs on Matt Corral.
On top of this weakness, Mathis's first step off the snap isn't elite. It's far from bad, (and it honestly may be skewed because Will Anderson has a ridiculously unmatched get-off) but it can put him behind the eight-ball on the play.
He's able to mask it with a great motor and excellent play reading ability that allows him to clean up in the end. His hand placement and functional strength allow him to read and react to plays. quickly and efficiently as well. All of these traits are on display in the final clip.
Overall, Mathis is a solid prospect that fans should fully expect to see make himself a lot of money in Mobile. If he can shore up his flexibility and display a stronger burst off the snap, his tenacity as a pass rusher and his leadership skills will bolster his chances of being a high second-round or even a day one selection.