Bears

NFL draft deep dive: Who is Alabama DT Phidarian Mathis?

Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis works against Florida offensive lineman Jean Delance on Sept. 18, 2021 in Gainesville, Fla.

When watching tape of Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis, it’s rare to see any missed tackles.

With long arms (34 5/8 inches) and huge hands (10 3/8 inches), he wraps up just about anything that comes his way. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound monster eats up space in the run game and shows an ability to shed blockers and slip between the gaps in the offensive line.

Mathis, a likely second- or third-round pick in the draft, could fill any number of roles on a defensive line. He played various roles at Alabama. He seems to have the size and agility to fill the “3-technique” role that the Bears had hoped free agent Larry Ogunjobi would fill.

The Bears have many needs to address in the draft and the defensive line doesn’t figure to be high on the list. Free agent tackle Justin Jones signed here to play the 3-technique on a two-year deal. But if general manager Ryan Poles were to look for a backup who could eventually take over that spot, Mathis might be worth taking a look at.

“I’m a hustler,” Mathis said at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine. “From my film, I think I run to the ball very well. That’s how I make a lot of plays. I use my hands well. I think I have great technique. I’m not perfect. I can get better at a lot of things. Those are two things, I think, that separate me from a lot of guys.”

Mathis said he emulates his game after six-time Pro Bowl tackle Calais Campbell. He admires the way Campbell uses his long arms to his advantage. That’s something Mathis knows well. His massive hands and long arms helped him wrap up 10.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss during his Alabama career.

In the second- to third-round of the draft, Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, who went to Lake Park High School, could be another potential fit for the Bears. Texas A&M’s Demarvin Leal is another prospect who could make a good 3-technique.

The defensive tackle class in the 2022 draft is highlighted by a pair of Georgia Bulldogs at the top. Devonte Wyatt and Jordan Davis are likely to be the first ones off the board, possibly both in the first round. Both will almost certainly be long gone when the Bears have their first pick at 39th overall.

Mathis said there was plenty of trash talking going on at the Senior Bowl between the Georgia tackles and the Alabama guys.

“We’re here for business,” Mathis said. “All that’s in the past now. We talk about it. We kind of praise each other about that stuff because we were the top two teams. We ain’t trash talking no more.”

Prospect breakdown

Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama

Height: 6-4

Weight: 310

College career: After a redshirt freshman season in 2017, Mathis played in 55 games during his Alabama career, including 20 starts. He was a second-team All-American and second-team All-SEC last season when he totaled nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Mathis is talented at squeezing through gaps in the offensive line and he eats up space in the run game.

They said it: “[Mathis’] improving interior pass-rush skills are an added bonus. He plays hard and projects as a future starter.” –Todd McShay, ESPN draft analyst

Draft projection: 2nd-3rd round

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.