Kincaid, Phillips III and Daniels Selected in 2023 NFL Draft


Jack Gambassi

The University of Utah Utes take the field for their matchup against the USC Trojans for the Pac-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Isaac Dunaway, Sports Writer


The 2023 NFL Draft was held over the weekend at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. Three Utes were selected: Dalton Kincaid in the first round by the Buffalo Bills, Clark Phillips III in the fourth round by the Atlanta Falcons and Braeden Daniels in the fourth round by the Washington Commanders.

History of the Utes in the NFL Draft

These three join the list of Utah football legends to be drafted into the NFL. Wide receiver Steve Smith, who put together a fantastic NFL career, was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2001. He won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2005 after breaking his leg in 2004. Smith is one of just four players since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to win the triple crown, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns that season.

Alex Smith is the only Ute to be drafted first overall — when the San Francisco 49ers selected him in 2005. Smith went on to have a successful pro career with the 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Commanders. The San Diego Chargers drafted his college teammate Eric Weddle in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Weddle played 14 years in the NFL with the Chargers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams, including a Super Bowl win with the Rams in his final game in 2022.

Buffalo’s selection of Kincaid marks back-to-back years the U has had a player drafted in the first round, joining Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd from last year. Coincidentally, both players were drafted after their teams traded up for them. The Jaguars moved up from 33 to 27 to draft Lloyd last year, and the Bills moved up from 27 to 25 to draft Kincaid on Thursday night. This is the first time in program history that Utah’s had first-round selections in consecutive years.

Utes in the 2023 NFL Draft

Kincaid, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, will head to Western New York for the next chapter in his football career. He spent the first two years of his collegiate career at San Diego, where in 2019, he led the Football Championship Subdivision in yards per catch for tight ends as well as finishing second in receiving yards.

Kincaid transferred to the U in 2020. He emerged as one of Cameron Rising’s favorite targets in 2021, catching 36 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. Kincaid also had a memorable moment in the 2022 Rose Bowl Game, scoring a game-tying touchdown with just under two minutes to go.

After fellow star tight end Brant Kuithe went down early in 2022 to a season-ending knee injury, Kincaid stepped up big time. He led the FBS in receiving yards and receiving yards per game for tight ends, as well as finishing second in touchdowns. Kincaid played a huge role in Utah’s upset win against USC on October 15. He finished with 16 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown, making key plays over and over.

Kincaid now heads to Buffalo, where he projects to be a very reliable weapon for Bills star quarterback Josh Allen.

The next Ute to be drafted was cornerback Phillips III, who was taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round, pick 113 overall. Phillips, the 4th rated cornerback in the country out of high school, put together an incredible resume in his three years at Utah. He made an instant impact as a true freshman in 2020. He recovered a fumble and made a pick-six against Washington State, helping the Utes to a comeback win.

Phillips was a cornerstone for the Utes defense in both 2021 and 2022. He finished his Utah career with nine interceptions, returning four of them for touchdowns. He played one of his best games on the biggest stage at the 2022 Rose Bowl. Phillips was all over the field, forcing two turnovers with an end zone interception and a forced fumble. In the 2022 season, he was named unanimous All-American.

The third Ute in the draft was offensive tackle Daniels. He was selected by the Washington Commanders in the fourth round, just a few picks after Phillips. Daniels was a versatile offensive lineman throughout his five years at Utah. He made 18 starts at left guard, 14 at left tackle and 11 at right tackle. 

After moving around the offensive line, Daniels solidified himself at left tackle in 2022 and was a dominant force. He was named Pac-12 Offensive Line Player of the Week for his effort in the win against USC on October 15, helping the Utes offense to 43 points in a huge come-from-behind win.


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