A pair of Utah players were selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday.

Cornerback Clark Phillips III was picked No. 113 overall by the Atlanta Falcons while offensive lineman Braeden Daniels was taken No. 118 overall by the Washington Commanders.

Dalton Kincaid was the first Utah player off the board Thursday, when he was a first-round pick, No. 25 overall, of the Buffalo Bills. 

Because Phillips was widely regarded as a top-100 pick, the Falcons may have gotten a steal. Atlanta has needs in the defensive backfield and Phillips could be a potential starting nickel back. 

Entering the draft, there were concerns about Phillips’ size (5-foot-9, 184 pounds). And this was a deep cornerback class. 

“Phillips will garner a role in the NFL thanks to his athletic traits,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Draft Bible. “He must prove that he is stable enough against bigger receivers to gain the label of a true outside corner. If not, a role in the slot is warranted thanks to his football intelligence and jitterbug movement skills.”

Phillips, a two-time All-Pac-12 selection, started all 31 games during his Utah career. He had nine interceptions, including four pick-sixes, which tied a school record. He ranks No. 4 all-time in career interception return yards with 232. 

Last season, Phillips earned Utah’s fourth unanimous All-American and he was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. He was also named the AP Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

2023 NFL draft: Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III selected by Atlanta Falcons
2023 NFL draft: Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III selected by Atlanta Falcons

In the coach Kyle Whittingham era, Phillips becomes the 15th defensive back from Utah selected in the draft. He’s also the second Ute to be taken by Atlanta in draft history. 

Utah cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah said before the draft that Phillips is a first-round talent, adding that whatever NFL takes Phillips will be getting a player with high value in many areas. 

“Just like we were, some team is going to be like, ‘Wow, he makes your team better.’ He will make not only the cornerbacks room better, the safeties room better, he makes the whole team better. People like workers,” Shah said. “People love people that show up every day, don’t complain, and just work.

“You talk about leadership — he was the consummate leader. It took him time to become that leader. But when he finally said, ‘I am a leader’ and he viewed himself in that manner, we became a better unit. I believe that will be the same thing that will happen to him at the next level.”

‘He’ll be phenomenal’: Why this Utes coach believes Clark Phillips III will be a hit in the NFL
What is it about Braeden Daniels’ versatility that makes him so unique heading into NFL draft?

Daniels is Utah’s 10th offensive lineman drafted in the Whittingham era. Daniels also earned the distinction of being the highest drafted Utah offensive lineman since 2017 (Garett Bolles, 20th overall). He’s the ninth Ute taken by Washington in draft history.

The 6-4, 294-pounder from Carrollton, Texas joins the Commanders’ offensive line with the ability to play multiple positions. His versatility is one of his best attributes. 

While Daniels is listed as a guard, the Commanders announced him as a tackle. Daniels could play center at the next level, although Washington drafted Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg in the third round. 

Utah’s Braeden Daniels participates in the school’s NFL pro day at the University of Utah practice facility on Thursday, March 23, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding said Daniels has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. 

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“The thing that jumps out is what he did at the combine. He finished in the top 10 in just about every testing category. When teams sit down with him and put him on a board or make him watch film, I think they’ll see a guy that has tremendous football IQ. A guy that’s versatile,” he said. “A guy that loves football. You can coach him hard. He transitions to the NFL very positively.

“I’m excited to see what happens for him in the draft. I have nothing but great things to say about him,” he continued. “Any NFL team that asks about him, that’s my opinion, I say the same thing. He’s got a lot of flexibility. One thing you don’t see on film until you talk to him is, he’s got a high passion for football and he’s an extremely smart kid.”

Daniels played in 49 games at Utah, starting 43 between left guard (18), left tackle (14) and right tackle (11). The two-time All-Pac-12 selection earned first-team honors in 2022.

Last season, he started all 14 games at left tackle, helping the Utes to 217.6 rushing yards per game and Utah’s O-line gave up only 1.07 sacks per game.

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