Phillip Gaines: A Closer Look at the Rice CB
By: Justin Partlow
Heading into 2013, there was a little buzz about Gaines as possible prospect, but after a very good 2013 season and subsequent film review, Phillip Gaines is now seen as one of the top CB’s available in this class. With his natural ability to cover well both in man as well as zone coverage, Gaines has shown the ability to transfer his skills into either scheme into the NFL. Teams will need to account for his medical history, along with the jump up in competition, but Phillip Gaines looks to be the real deal.
When you pop on the film of Gaines, one thing stands out immediately on film, he just is able to cover and do so fluidly. What I really enjoy watching in Gaines on film is his ability to redirect and change his hips without much effort and be able to cover anyone in front of him. It almost seems as if the challenge of facing the top receiver brings out the best of Gaines, and he plays even at a higher level than is expected. Gaines does a very good job of using his hands in coverage in an effort to redirect his opponent off his routes. Phillip has a very good backpedal and is able to click and close very well because of how well his technique is already refined. With his ability to play with high-level technique, Gaines looks the part of someone who can play immediately in the NFL at a high level.
With most CB’s, the idea of playing in run defense leads to not much effort being shown. With Gaines, the exact opposite mentality is shown on film and it leads to much more of an intriguing skillset due to his ability to want to be an all around player on the field. When you watch film of Gaines, you notice his ability to stick his nose into the play and make tackles. Gaines has very good tackling form and does a good job of wrapping up his opponent and not letting him go. Gaines will need to work on calming himself down and being a bit less aggressive as he still has a tendency to over-pursue in run defense and get out of position on cut back lanes. While not a major fix, it’ll just be more of a discipline fix that can be taught over time with Gaines.
As highlighted earlier, the pass defense ability of Phillip Gaines will be what sets him apart from other prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft class. Phillip Gaines not only shows great ability to redirect and flip his hips, but his natural awareness and ball skills are that of an elite player. Multiple times on film, Gaines was able to read the eyes of the QB and jump and make a play on the ball. Gaines has an uncanny ability to be able to guess and figure out where exactly the quarterback is going to be throwing the ball before it happens in real time. Having that natural ability will lead to the pick six plays that are coveted in the NFL. With this natural ability to do that, Gaines will be seen as one of the better “playmakers” at CB because of the ability to make those game changing plays. Gaines does need to watch his physicality in pass coverage, as he has been seen still trying to be physical 10+ yards downfield.
Phillip Gaines wasn’t a highly rated guy heading into the 2013 season, but with his very good year and the film of him showing a high-end player, he’s now seen as one of the better CB prospects. With his impressive ball skills and ability to cover the top receivers, Gaines will be seen as someone who can play immediately in the NFL and can continue to develop over time. Look for Gaines to come off the board early in the 3rd round, but could very well move into the 2nd if there is a run on CB’s earlier.