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.