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The Chiefs need help in the secondary and much will be expected of third-round pick Phillip Gaines. However, the former Rice prospect seems like a strange fit for Sutton's defense.
Gaines may struggle to adapt his zone skills to Sutton's man coverage-led schemes. Despite good size at 6'0" and 193 pounds, Gaines excelled as a zone corner in college.
NFL.com draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki highlighted Gaines' potential issues in man coverage:
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. ...
Could earn a roster spot on pure measurables but lacks desirable functional speed, strength and physicality.
The lack of imposing physicality could be a major hindrance, given Sutton's preference for press-based, single-high coverage concepts. Gaines has the ability and mobility to shadow receivers down the field, but could consistently lose the initial power battle against NFL pass-catchers.
That's not good news is an AFC West division featuring big targets such as Demaryius Thomas, Keenan Allen and James Jones.
The Chiefs recently parted ways with accomplished veteran Brandon Flowers. He often struggled to adapt to the nuances of a new defense, so it's strange the team opted for another dubious scheme fit.
Gaines' incompatibility could already be showing. ESPN.com's Adam Teicher noted how Gaines has found himself lower in this offseaon's pecking order:
That the Chiefs, in need of corners, passed over Gaines for journeymen or developmental prospects in spring practice suggests they believe he is a project. It’s far too early to count him out, particularly if the Chiefs continue to have a need. If he improves in camp, the opportunity for playing time will probably be there. At this point, though, it appears his main contribution will come on special teams.
Considering the Chiefs need instant impact in a secondary that faces quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers twice a season, they may not have time for projects.