By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
A brief report on Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines.
Phillip Gaines/CB Rice: 6’0/3 193
- Bulk and size are above average
- Possesses quick feet
- Agile with strong change of direction
- Loose hips and transitions well
- Low in his pedal, especially for taller frame
- Enough speed to play at the next level
- Long strider
- Capable of providing a big hit
- Plays the ball in the air well and can play the pocket
- Tons of starting experience
- Not a ton of upper body strength and lacks ability to shed receivers in the run game
- Didn’t see much time in the slot, mostly played outside the numbers
- Aggressive tackler that doesn’t always wrap, leading with his shoulder
- Possibly shy in the run game, doesn’t get his nose that dirty
- One year of production with his interceptions
- Character concerns?
- Medical issues early in career
- Played in 52 career games with 40 career starts
- 2012 and 2013 First Team All C-USA
- 2013: 36 tackles, 9 PDs, 4 interceptions
- Didn’t record an interception prior to 2012
- 27 passes defended in 2012 and 2013 combined
- Only played in five games in 2011 due to a left foot injury
- Dealt with knee injury in camp prior to senior season
- Broken wrist in 2009, played with cast, then suffered another season-ending injury two games later
- Two-year captain
- Arrested on a misdemeanor in 2011 for carrying less than two ounces of marijuana
- Suspended for 2013 opener for violation of team rules
Gaines is the athlete you’d expect based on his Combine numbers (4.38 40, 4.04 20 shuttle, 36.5 vertical). Loose hips for his size and flips with ease.
Quick change of direction defending this jerk route against La Tech. Gaines at the top of the screen.
Following play really tested his agility and feet. Cornerback at the top of the screen. Ball not thrown to him but still a “plus” play. Receiver stems to the outside off the line, works back inside, and them cuts back outside. Gaines doesn’t get turned around, doesn’t overcommit, and keeps his feet moving. Passes with flying colors.
Reads the quarterback in his zone, flips his hips, locates the ball, and picks it off. What you want in a cornerback.
Will admit I didn’t get as close of a look at him as I had hoped and generally speaking, cornerbacks are difficult to evaluate with TV tape. But a couple negatives did pop up.
Can lay the lumber but at the risk of lowering his shoulder instead of fundamentally wrapping up. Will cause him to miss tackles.
Lacks upper body strength and can get pushed around from stalk blocks in the run game.
Was an encouraging sign he stayed healthy his final two years after missing time in the early portion of his career. Injury in 2011 caused him to medical redshirt.
Character is something teams will be able to evaluate much better than I could. Two year captain is nothing to scoff at but did have the arrest and the suspension. Overall, however, Gaines is billed as a leader and hard worker.
Gaines will fit in just fine in a zone scheme where he predominantly played in college. I probably would rate Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett higher than Gaines but with those players likely going early and not falling into Round Two, Gaines is not a bad option. Quick feet and change of direction Dick LeBeau desires.
Projection: Mid Second
Games Watched: vs Louisiana Tech, vs Marshall, vs Mississippi St (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin
UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
South Carolina CB Victor Hampton
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Texas DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
TCU CB Jason Verrett
Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk