The Cleveland Browns have suffered a plague of injuries at the defensive back position, causing GM John Dorsey to work overtime trying to keep up. Most in the industry would refer to this as searching through the scrap heap to simply find anyone that can fill the rotation role the Browns need to finish the year. One of the players added by Dorsey in November was cornerback Phillip Gaines of Rice University. On Sunday against the Houston Texans, Gaines was given his first chance at real playing time. Before I get into the game, let us take a look at Phillip Gaines the player.
Gaines started his football career at Judson High School in the very small town of Converse, Texas, population:18,198. Gaines was a two-sport athlete playing football and running track. While he excelled at both, he was also winning in the classroom with a 3.7 GPA. After high school, Gaines was a two-star recruit heading to Rice University for the 2009 season. From 2009 to 2013 Gaines recorded 134 solo tackles, 41 assisted tackles, and two sacks. His senior year, Gaines snagged four interceptions before entering the NFL draft.
With an overall grade of 5.24,(NFL backup or special teams potential) the 6’0 193 lb.cornerback turned in a very impressive combine. Starting with the 40-yard dash, he ran a blistering 4.38, then 6.62 seconds on the three-cone drill, and finishing with 4.04 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle. All three earning him top performer grades for the weekend.
“He’s a long corner who had a tremendous combine workout. I felt like he’s a developmental guy, but he has starter skills.” — Mike Mayock
Below are the strengths, weaknesses, and the overview report from NFL.Com:
Nice length. Terrific timed speed, blazing sub-4.4 times at the combine. Can be deployed in zone coverage. Plays the pocket. Good production on the ball, with 35 passes defensed the last two seasons. Tough and competitive. Is hardworking and well respected by coaches and teammates. Recorded second-quickest three-cone drill among cornerbacks at the combine (6.62 seconds).
Durability is a concern. Has been dinged up. Underdeveloped and underpowered. Does not play to timed speed. Not equipped to handle man-to-man responsibility. Poor run supporter and tackler. Does not project as a core special-teams player. Tweener traits.
Draft Projection: Rounds 4-5
Lean, active zone corner whose ball skills will have to carry him. Could earn a roster spot on pure measurables but lacks desirable functional speed, strength, and physicality.
GM John Dorsey selected Phillip Gaines in the third round with the 87th pick overall. He remained with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2014 to 2017. After playing out his rookie contract, Gaines signed a one year deal with the Buffalo Bills for the 2018 season.
Gaines found a lot of ups and downs in his first four years in league. Starting in only six games, the Bills blindsided everyone with the release of Gaines after he recorded 30 tackles. He also was responsible for committing four pass interference penalties, leading people to believe that was the reason.
John Dorsey was quick to claim Gaines to help the Cleveland Browns in the much-needed role as a depth player that can be a tackling machine on special teams. Gaines was given his first chance when starting defensive back Denzel Ward left the game with a concussion against the Houston Texans.
Phillip Gaines took full advantage of the 53% of plays he was given, recording five solo tackles and two assisted tackles. Gaines also logged a tackle on special teams. Pro Football Focus graded him with a 64.0 against the run, 78.2 against the pass, and 71.0 for tackling, giving him an overall grade of 77.3. That grade ranks Gaines above fellow Browns starting DBs T.J. Carrie and Briean Boddy-Calhoun and only a little under Denzel Ward who has a 79.8.
Though this was only one start for Phillip Gaines, it was against one of the top offensive units in the AFC. Once again GM Dorsey may have found another diamond in the rough and a player that will add much-needed depth at cornerback. Gaines has everything you could want for a player at that position, and now it’s up to him to solidify his place with the new Cleveland Browns.
Written By: @Chadp71
Edited By: @Robzie_