Commanders

5 things about new Commanders DT Phidarian Mathis

Commanders
Phidarian Mathis

The Commanders used their second-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft on Alabama defensive tackle Philadarian Mathis.

Here's everything you need to know about the 47th overall pick...

1. He got home

As a redshirt senior in 2021, Mathis did it all for the Crimson Tide defense. He finished his final season in Tuscaloosa with nine sacks, the second most of any Alabama defender. His 10.5 tackles for loss were the third most on the Tide, only behind linebacker Dallas Turner and All-American pass rusher Will Anderson.

Mathis' numbers are especially impressive considering his position as an interior defensive lineman. 

"I knew what time it was. It was time for me to step up," Mathis said via Zoom on his increased sack numbers. "I finally had my chance to be a starter. I finally had my chance not to sit behind so many guys. ... I had to wait my turn. It was finally my turn and I think I stepped up when it was time to step up."

2. Mathis is a leader

Prior to the 2021 season, Mathis' final in Tuscaloosa, he was named a permanent defensive captain. It's an impressive accomplishment, especially for a player that had to wait his turn to play behind many talented former Alabama defensive linemen.

"That meant a lot because I know what type of work I put in for me and also the work I put in for my brothers that were beside me," Mathis said. "I just want to thank those guys for even honoring me to be a team leader, because I know and they know that I love football so much and I love them as brothers so much. I think that's kind of the reason they chose me as one of the team captains."

 

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3. He didn't have a Commanders' hat on draft night

Prior to draft night, Mathis had no clue which team was going to select him. So, he and his family went out and purchased hats for every NFL club just to cover their bases.

However, there was one issue: they couldn't find a Commanders' hat. Mathis' father had been traveling through Atlanta and was able to find a Washington hat from a gas station. However, it wasn't the franchise's new gear.

"I told my dad, 'It's going to be crazy if they call me and it's the only hat I don't have," Mathis said.

4. His No. 48 has a special meaning

Mathis wore No. 48 at Alabama, which is an atypical number for a defensive tackle. Yet, there's a reason close to Mathis' heart as to why he sports that number.

The No. 48 is a tribute to his cousin, Tyrell Cameron, who tragically died after suffering a neck injury during a punt return, according to NFL.com's Chad Reuter.

Unfortunately for Mathis, No. 48 is currently in circulation, belonging to second-year safety Darrick Forrest. However, Forrest wore No. 5 in college, so it's not clear if the digit has any specific meaning to him. If not, Mathis should be able to work out a deal with Forrest to get the number that means so much to him.

5. He's close with some of Washington's current ex-Alabama players

In Washington, Mathis will join a defensive tackle room that includes two former Crimson Tide players in Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Mathis never overlapped with Allen in Tuscaloosa but did spend one season as Payne's teammate. Yet, he mentioned he's kept in constant contact with the two throughout the years.

"They're my big bros. I just talked to Jonathan Allen at the [Texas] A&M game. And Payne, we talk all the time," Mathis said. "So it's just a blessing to be back with Payne and getting the chance to play Jonathan Allen. ... I can't wait to get around those guys, learn from them and also come in and help them out."

Mathis was also teammates with Commanders wide receiver Cam Sims, as the two spent the 2017 season together at Alabama. When Mathis spoke with local media via Zoom roughly 45 minutes after being selected, he mentioned that he had already spoken with Sims since he was drafted.

 

Mathis is the sixth former Alabama player Washington has selected since 2017. It's a pipeline that the Burgundy and Gold continue to use.