Phillip Gaines – Cornerback – Rice
Size – 6003 – 193 – 4.38
Strong Points: 3.5-year starter, height, long arms, speed and overall athleticism, press coverage, zone coverage, ball reactions, hands, very good combine workout.
Weak Points: Was suspended for season-opener vs Texas A&M, strength, tackling, shed blocks, run support.
2014 Stats: 36 total tackles, four interceptions, 10 passes broken up
Gaines is a fifth-year senior and a 3.5-year starter. In 2011 he started the first three games, but sustained an injury and missed the rest of the season. Was awarded a medical redshirt season.
Gaines has excellent height at 6003 with long arms. He is very fast and athletic, with quick feet and suddenness. He has a low pedal and can turn, but takes an extra step in transition. This will have to be corrected at the next level.
Gaines lines up on the left side. He plays a lot of press coverage and some zone. You seldom see him in off coverage. In press, he has a good jam and turn and shows better than average mirror skills. He can get beat off of his opponents’ cuts, but he has the recovery and burst to get back into the play. Gaines plays the ball well in the air and records a number of broken-up passes. His open-field tackling is adequate.
In zone, Gaines shows awareness and is alert enough to help out when free. In addition, he displays excellent range. My only question in regards to Gaines’ zone coverage ability is his transition because he takes an extra step and this costs him some time.
Gaines is not an aggressive run support player. He plays back and waits for the play to come to him. He lacks upper body strength and struggles to get off blocks. He is not an aggressive tackler and you seldom see him try to make a big hit.
Overall, Gaines has a lot of talent. I feel his run support will improve with added upper body strength and confidence. However, until that happens, you can’t count on him to be a good cover guy on special teams.
With his speed, press cover skills and combine workout, Gaines is getting a lot of attention. Those things may get him drafted high. I see him as a top “B” level player (third round) because of his strength and run support deficiencies. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets drafted during the latter part of the second round.
Grade: B 6.6