In four years as a starting cornerback at Rice, it was apparent Phillip Gaines wasn’t easily going to be distressed by the little things – or even the something a little bigger like when and where he will be drafted into the NFL.
“Honestly, I really didn’t care if I was a free-agent guy, as long as I got picked up and got the opportunity to play,” he told reporters Friday in a conference call. “Nothing really bothers me.”
That may be a good attitude to have since the Kansas City Chiefs play in the same division as stress-causing quarterbacks Payton Manning and Philip Rivers. Gaines was chosen by the Chiefs with the 87th pick in the third round of the NFL Draft late Friday. Gaines is the first player from Rice to be selected by the Chiefs since defensive tackle Cornelius Walker was picked in 1974.
“He has all the physical dimensions of what we ask for in our corners,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey told ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “He’s long, he’s fast, he has long arms. He has 36 [passes broken up] over his career, which is a school record. He plays and tracks the deep ball well. There’s still a lot of upside with him.
Gaines was an all-conference selection the past two seasons, helping Rice qualify for back-to-back bowl games and win the 2013 Conference USA title. He allowed just 13 receptions his senior season while interception four passes.
“Honestly, in 2013 I didn’t have too many balls thrown against me,” Gaines said. “In 2012, it was a little bit more challenging, just because I was a junior and they were throwing at me a little more. Louisiana Tech, they have Quinton Patton; he was the really good receiver. He caught a touchdown on me. As a competitor, you never want to give up touchdowns, but you have to know that it will happen and you have to move on. I never let it really affect me.”
Gaines also didn’t seem to let his suspension for apparent marijuana use affect his senior season. He missed the season opener against Texas A&M, and a matchup against No. 7 draft pick Mike Evans, because of a second failed marijuana test.
“I tripped up on some marijuana issues,” he said, “That happened back then, but now, I’m moving forward. …I dragged my family and I dragged my teammates into it, but I’ve grown from it. You live and you learn. Fortunately enough, I’ve learned and I have the opportunity that I’ve been drafted by the Chiefs. They don’t have anything to worry about. I’m just ready to go.”
Gaines joins what is now a crowded Kansas City secondary, particularly at cornerback. The Chiefs have eight cornerbacks on the roster, including off-season signee Chris Owens. He along with Brandon Flowers, Ron Parker, Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper figure to see game action this fall assuming all remain on the team.
Gaines said he’s willing to play wherever, including safety.
“I don’t care if I’m strictly gunner on punt team,” he said. “It’s doesn’t matter to me. Wherever they put me, I’ll do it.”