Prior to the draft, a rumor permeated throughout Kansas City like wildfire, suggesting that Brandon Flowers was actively being shopped around by the Chiefs.
As the event crept closer, the speculation slowly but surely died off. That is, until John Dorsey selected a cornerback, Phillip Gaines, in the third round.
And the roller coaster loops around for a second pass.
Before last season, Flowers was revered as one of the league's best cornerbacks. In fact, from 2009 through 2012 (subscription required), he was the only player who Pro Football Focus annually graded as a top-seven corner.
However, the defense predominantly changed from a Cover 2 to a Cover 1, and Flowers' most distinctive asset—his instincts—was all but entirely stripped from his arsenal.
Make no mistake: Anyone who has watched No. 24 over the years would be dimwitted to double down on him floundering throughout two consecutive seasons.
His mediocre (by his standards, at least) 2013 campaign stemmed from three variables: an undersized frame, frequent injuries and the fact Kansas City's deep-safety play—particularly that of Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps—was arguably the worst in the NFL.
Remember, while T.Y. Hilton charred Kansas City's secondary for 13 receptions, 224 yards and two touchdowns last postseason, Flowers blanketed the fleet-footed wideout, allowing just two receptions for 15 yards and thwarting a threatening drive with an interception.
But if you assign a partially injured, 5'9", 187-pound corner to play press-man (with nonexistent safety help) versus 6'2", 222-pound Dez Bryant, nothing short of a minor miracle will sway the outcome in the defense's favor. (For the record, once Bob Sutton swallowed his pride and deployed bracket coverage against Bryant, the playmaker's hot streak fizzled out.)
Gaines was drafted because he's a lengthy, physical corner with above-average athleticism and impressive speed. He's a prototypical fit for Kansas City's defense, and while his pro career will likely kick off with sub-package duties, he hosts the potential to climb the ladder and start within a year or two.
For now, that allows Flowers to slide inside as the slot corner (when the situation calls for it) and provides outside-the-numbers insurance if the inconsistencies of Marcus Cooper and/or Sean Smith continue trending.
If the Pro Bowler returns to vintage form this season, Smith will likely be the corner whose seat begins to smoke, as his track record doesn't hold a candle to Flowers', and the team can gain $5.5 million by cutting ties with him prior to 2015.