NAME: Greg Gaines
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 99
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 322 lbs
Run Defense – Features a powerful anchor and he isn’t easily moved out of his gap. Bull against the run that aggressively attacks blocks and controls the line of scrimmage. Not a penetration player but frequently resets the line of scrimmage. Generally plays with low pads. Fights pressure with pressure, clogs running lanes and keeps the second level free.
Pass Rush – Traits to make an impact as an NFL pass rusher are severely lacking. Lacks the juice, flexibility and hand technique to create pressure. Has some ability as a pocket pusher but struggles to disengage. Offers very little value on passing downs. Limited.
Effort – Brings it on every snap but lacks the physical traits to make an impact outside of a short area. Fires off the ball slowly but with urgency. Works hard throughout every rep but struggles to free himself from blocks.
Hand Technique – Needs major development. Consistently gets outreached and doesn’t have swipes or counters to clear his pads. Doesn’t consistently win with first contact which is problematic given his lack of length and hand combating skills.
Flexibility – Noticeably stiff when changing directions and is too tight to work his hips through gaps. Sluggish working laterally down the line of scrimmage despite giving great effort. Juice and twitch are nonexistent. Wins in tight spaces.
Play Strength – Country strong run defender with a powerful anchor. Not easily moved or turned out of gaps but isn’t immune to getting rocked back if his pad level isn’t right. Capable of resetting the line of scrimmage and controlling blocks despite a lack of technique.
Play Speed – Processes play design quickly but is a slow mover that struggles to get off blocks. Get off out of his stance is slow. No burst or juice to his game.
Lateral Movement – Wins in tight areas and isn’t a threat to work down the line of scrimmage. Labors to change directions and redirect. Range is very small.
Versatility – Projects as a plug in a 4-3 alignment. Lacks the length and ability to stack blocks with consistency to be a two-gap players as a 3-4 nose. Extremely limited on passing downs. Value comes as a run defender and he’s a limited prospect.
BEST TRAIT – Run Defense
WORST TRAIT – Pass Rush
RED FLAGS – None
Gaines showcases a stout anchor and strong processing skills against the run that make him best suited to work on early downs as a plug in a 4-3 defense. While his ability to control the line of scrimmage, eliminate running lanes and keep the second level clean against the run is appealing, his pass rushing upside is minimal. Given his lack of juice, hand combating skills and lack of flexibility, Gaines doesn’t profile as an impact pass rusher in the NFL and his skill set is limited. Projecting as a niche player on early downs and subpackages, a team in need of a run stuffing defensive tackle would be well-served by adding Gaines. Gaines has the upside to defend the run right away in the NFL but his projection beyond that reveals a low ceiling and little value considering how today’s NFL offenses play.
Hand Technique/Length –Length is non-existent. His ability to play off of contact is predicated around bowling ball reps to crash off of bodies and redirect as a crash defender. Doesn’t offer a lot of flavor when he’s trying to lock horns and is often long-armed into a stalemate at the POA.
Competitive Toughness –Stout. Love his ability to squat and hold his ground, knows what his strengths are and plays true to them. Effort is admirable to both execute his primary responsibilities but then also to make effort to get involved in the play with secondary approach.
Two Gap Ability – Stacking up blocks is probably his best trait. Anchor and functional strength consistently stuff up the middle and keep his linebackers clean to flow to the football. That said, shedding is problematic. Won’t be a finisher due to lack of length to create space and press himself into the gap.
Gap Penetration Skills – Doesn’t have the burst to roll clean through gaps at the stance and subsequently lacks the influence with his hands to play off of down blocks or lateral contact trying to wash him out of the play. Much more effective to stay true to his occupation role.
Tackling – Tackle radius is not notable due to lack of length, change of direction burst or ability to pop off of blocks cleanly at the POA. Is effective as a wrap up challenger when he’s able to push through blocks and get his numbers clean to the ball carrier.
Flexibility – Pretty stiff through the hips, doesn’t show a lot of lateral lean or bend to play around bodies in traffic. Natural leverage is effective given his stature but overall isn’t going to inspire with abilities to recover if rocked at first contact or any illustrations of a dynamic base.
Pass Rush Counters – Doesn’t offer a lot of anything based off of his film. Had some pleasantly surprising flashes at the Senior Bowl but in that setting was afforded a lot of extra space to crease room for himself to press up the field. Isn’t going to be a valued 3rd down player.
First Step Quickness – Would classify as “average”. He doesn’t have concrete cleats but he also isn’t going to win any track events. Ability to get out of his stance isn’t going to overwhelm interior blockers but his limitations loom largest when he’s looking to re-direct.
Feet/Change Of Direction – Doesn’t have a lot of spring in his steps when forced to collect himself, needs a runway to gear down and then turn before trying to work back up to speed. Doesn’t displace himself into gaps with stride length and instead is stuck in the mud.
Versatility – Pretty one dimensional football player, but he can certainly play at the next level. Value is going to be mitigated by early down role and league trends towards the passing game, but he’ll be effective in fulfilling his niche on a 53-man roster.
BEST TRAIT – Two Gap Ability
WORST TRAIT – Pass Rush Counters
BEST FILM – California (2018)
WORST FILM – Penn State (2017)
RED FLAGS – None
Greg Gaines has a modest ceiling, but certainly a role to play in the NFL. Gaines’ stout build and low center of gravity allow him to occupy space in the middle, he’ll be predominantly a role player tasked with doing the dirty work to keep his teammates clean on early downs. Gaines’ lack of length and pass rush capabilities will keep him off the field on third downs but he can be an early down fixture for teams looking to anchor vs. the run.
PROS: Built like a brickhouse and plays like one, too. Has enough power in one club to relocate an NFL-sized offensive lineman. Thick frame stays balanced well; he’s able to bury or at least knock over a high number of opponents. Uses hump move effectively as a pass rusher, especially when slanting from even technique, to generate rush angles/push the pocket. Can eat up double teams with combination of power and mass; play style, frame, and traits all indicate ideal fit as a 0-tech space eater. Comes off the the line with good pad level generally, but can be a bit upright at times. Can flash decent quickness when slanting.
CONS: Athletic ability greatly in question and pass-rush upside is non-existent. No moves beyond hump move are present; hump move only featured so heavily because Gaines lacks the burst, quickness, or bend to attack any pre-existing gaps, even when aligned as a 3 or 1 tech. Lack of bull rush notably egregious. Despite good hand fits, shockingly unable to disengage from blockers when two-gapping, often closing down on the hole but failing to get involved with the tackle. Not a playmaker. Has poor situational awareness and regularly gets turned around, exposing back as a pass rusher; guess/jumps into the wrong gap against zone flow and traps/pulls. Not a high-motor pursuit player.