The 26-year old Adams is 5 foot 11, 193 pounds, and was drafted by the 49ers in the 7th round in 2010. Since then, he's also played for New England, Oakland and Seattle. He has started four games in his career but received plenty of playing time as a nickel back.
After the jump, I look in detail at footage from his career so far and from this year's preseason to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.
Who is Phillip Adams?
Adams played collegiately at South Carolina State, where he intercepted three passes to become a first-team all Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection. Adams did not receive a combine invite, but put up pretty good numbers at his pro day, including a 4.50 forty time. The 49ers drafted him in the 7th round of the 2010 draft.
As a rookie, Adams didn't play much on defense, although he did register six special teams tackles. However, he broke his ankle late in the year. In 2011, he was released, but picked up midseason by New England to fill in as a slot corner in five games. New England released him again once everyone was healthy and he signed for Seattle for whom he played one game. Adams joined the Raiders in 2012 and played there over the last two years. On each occasion he didn't play much at the start of the year, but gradually increased his playing time and ended up starting a couple of games.
Adams re-signed with the Seahawks at the start of the free agency period, but was released during final cuts and claimed by the Jets who obviously lack depth at the position.
- 53 games
- Four starts
- 66 tackles (including 11 on special teams)
- Eight passes defensed
- Three interceptions
- One fumble recovery
- 37 punt returns, 6.1 ypr average, three fumbles
- Three 20+ yard returns, one 40+ yard return
- One pressure in 14 pass rush attempts
- Coverage numbers: 50-83-558yds, TD, 3INT
- Slot coverage: 7-15-99yds in 97 pass plays while in the slot
Week 1 - at Denver
Adams entered at half time and played 27 snaps in this game. He wasn't targeted in 13 pass plays. He did make one play against the run, getting off his block to stop a runner for a short gain.
Week 2 - v San Diego
Adams first entered this game with four minutes left in the second quarter, this time playing 27 snaps. He was targeted once, but it was incomplete. However, he could have done a better job of getting his head turned around on a throw to the outside which was dropped. Adams was also flagged for illegal contact when he was playing off and put his hands on the receiver as he latched onto him downfield, away from the ball. He made a good play against the run as he run-blitzed from the slot and eluded traffic to make the stop for a short gain. He added a good tackle on special teams as he broke free up the middle, forcing the return man wide and pursued him across the field.
Week 3 - v Chicago
In this game, Adams entered during the third quarter and played 19 snaps. He had one tackle and was targeted twice, giving up a 14 yard pass. The catch he gave up came as he played well off his man as it looked like the Seahawks were trying to set a trap as the slot corner tried to get over but was blocked off by the slot receiver. On his other target, he was again playing well off, but the throw was off-line and a diving catch attempt was unsuccessful. That wouldn't have been a first down and the Seahawks were 34-0 up so perhaps playing prevent by design. Adams was also penalized for pass interference on a play where he was in a good position but had his hands all over the receiver before the ball arrived. Adams also fielded a punt but did not get any return yardage.
Week 4 - at Oakland
Adams played 38 snaps in this one, seeing action with the first unit in the nickel. Much was made over the fact that he gave up two touchdowns, although one came as he was in a good position in coverage and the ball was tipped right to the guy he was covering. The other was a bad one as he slowed up to look back at into the backfield and the receiver kept going. It was almost as if Adams thought he had deep help but it should have been obvious that he didn't.
Other than those two plays, he gave up one other catch, a 13-yard gain where he was covering in the slot and playing press with safety support behind him. He allowed the receiver an outside release and was beaten on a route to the outside and in front of the safety. He did have some good plays in coverage too though, including this pass breakup that led to a pick-six for his teammate. He also came up to make a tackle for a loss after Greg Little had initially made a first down catch but then spun out of a tackle and lost yardage. Adams added a tackle for a short gain on a run blitz, drew an offensive pass interference penalty and lined up as a gunner and blew by his man outside for an immediate tackle on a punt.
Here's my observations from watching the footage on Adams, including footage from his first four seasons in the league, divided into categories:
While Adams has mostly played on the outside, he does have some experience in the slot, especially in 2011 where that was his role with the Patriots. He did see time in the slot in preseason. While with the Raiders, he was usually left on one side or the other so he did face some top receivers.
Adams had a couple of bad plays in preseason, but over the course of his career he's not been too bad in coverage. He struggled against the Broncos in the last game of last year, giving up six catches for 121 yards and a touchdown on just seven targets. Prior to that, he had decent coverage numbers (17-28-146 and a 74.4 quarterback rating). In that game, he was mostly matched up with Demaryius Thomas, a much tougher match-up than you'd ever expect him to have if called into action with the Jets. Four of his other 17 catches surrendered were by Dez Bryant in a match-up with the Cowboys. In 2012, he had given up catches on all six of his targets entering the final month of the season. However, he turned things around and only allowed three catches for 22 yards on nine targets over the last four games, with two interceptions.
Adams has pretty good measurables (including a 34.5 inch vertical leap and a 124 inch broad jump) and his recovery and straight line speed seem good. He looks particularly fast when coming forwards.
Adams was used in press coverage quite a bit and did a much better job of adjusting to the new emphasis than Leon McFadden. I wonder if his lack of size relative to the other Seattle defensive backs was a factor in him not making that team, which might be less of an issue for another team. Four of the five corners on their roster are over six feet tall.
Adams is another player who has experience of being a punt gunner. The Jets have a lot of options for this position in 2014, which is important given Ellis Lankster's release. He made one good play in preseason, but hasn't quite stood out in this role as Lankster did in the past. Adams was also used in a variety of other special teams roles, including in kick coverage, as a blocker and in the vice role. The fact he has a lot of experience of fielding punts at the NFL level is important too, as I suspect the Jets fear Jalen Saunders might not be ready to do this yet. Adams' numbers are not great but he did have a long return for a touchdown in preseason as a rookie.
Adams' play against the run was perhaps one of his most impressive traits from watching this film. He seemed to have a knack to come up and make a stop and isn't afraid to stick his nose into the action. I didn't see him allowing himself to be blocked out of too many plays either.
Tackling, unfortunately, seems to be one area where he struggles. He's good at attacking when going forward, but when he's in the open field or chasing after someone, his technique can get sloppy, leading to a lot of missed tackles. He had nine missed tackles last season and in 2011 he had five missed tackles and only made eight. Bear in mind that if a player misses a tackle on a pass play, that will count against their coverage grade on PFF, so any low coverage grade might not always be as much of an indication of how badly someone struggles in terms of covering their man as you might first think.
There isn't much to review here, but as noted he made some good plays when run blitzing. The one pressure he had came as he blitzed from the slot and missed the tackle on the quarterback who was sacked as he stepped up.
Adams managed to deflect some passes and has three interceptions in his career. One of these was as easy as you could get as he passed his man off to the safety at the back of the end zone and the quarterback just threw it straight to him. Another saw him intercept Peyton Manning, who underthrew a receiver as Adams dropped off with a safety coming across to give him coverage over the top. Manning, under pressure on the play, never should have made that throw and Adams made an athletic diving grab. The third one also came on an underthrow as he had press coverage with safety support behind him. That seems to be a situation within which he fares pretty well. I would note that sometimes his timing is slightly off when trying to play the ball in coverage.
Other than the touchdown he gave up over the top, I didn't see Adams involved in any coverage breakdowns. As noted, he seems to have a knack of making plays against the run and avoiding blockers.
Adams doesn't particularly seem to be one of your really demonstrative cornerback types. I didn't really see any bad calls go against him though.
Adams hasn't been affected too badly by injury although he did end up on season ending reserve right at the end of the year in both 2010 (broken ankle) and 2012 (groin). He also had a concussion in 2012. He was not listed on the injury list at all last season.
As a fan of Ellis Lankster, I was disappointed in the moves yesterday and not particularly impressed with Leon McFadden's film. I therefore had low expectations for this one, but actually Adams isn't bad. He made one really bad mistake in preseason, but other than that was right in the mix for a roster spot in a deep Seahawks secondary.
I guess what Adams offers that Lankster doesn't is an ability to play in the slot. He's also more experienced despite having entered the league a year later, has slightly better size and offers the added value of being an option to return punts. I assume those must be things the Jets covet for their fourth and fifth cornerback.
Adams is not practice squad eligible and therefore this move hasn't been made with a view to adding him onto the practice squad once the team who got rid of him has already filled theirs up as may be the case with McFadden and Powell. However, as a vested veteran, the Jets might not necessarily want Adams on the opening day roster which will guarantee his salary for the whole year. How he fares in practice, together with the injury situation for the opener will ultimately determine his fate.