KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs' first pick in the draft was a pass-rusher, their second a pass defender. That's not a coincidence since they play in a division along with the passing games of the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers.
The Chiefs added Rice cornerback Philip Gaines in the third round Friday night, one day after selecting Auburn outside linebacker Dee Ford in the first. Both moves were made to bolster a defense that collapsed over the second half of last season and blew a 28-point third-quarter lead in a playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
While the selection of Ford was meant to complement incumbent pass-rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the addition of Gaines serves notice to starter Brandon Flowers and third cornerback Marcus Cooper. Each had his share of struggles last season and while the Chiefs don't appear prepared to move Gaines immediately into one of those spots, they believe he is ready to compete for playing time.
Gaines, 23, played five seasons at Rice, including a year for a medical redshirt in 2011.
"He's very advanced," general manager John Dorsey said. "He's very competitive. He's very prideful."
It's not a coincidence that Gaines comes from a defensive system that asks its cornerbacks to play a lot of press coverage, just as the Chiefs ask their corners to do.
"We pretty much played press man all the time, so I'm really confident in it," Gaines said. "I've watched the Chiefs for plenty of years. My family is from Philadelphia, so they're huge Andy Reid fans. I've seen their whole scheme and everything, so I'm just ready to go."
The Chiefs prefer bigger cornerbacks who are better matchups against bigger receivers. One starter, Sean Smith, is 6 feet 3 and Cooper is 6-2. But Flowers is 5-9 and has trouble staying with bigger receivers. He had particular problems last year against 6-2 Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.
Gaines is listed at 6-0, 193 pounds.
"He has all the physical dimensions of what we ask for in our corners," Dorsey said. "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.
"I think you had to go in this direction. As we all know, you can't have enough good corners in this league. He sure adds [more] quality depth for us at that position."
Gaines missed last year's season opener against Texas A&M after what he said was a second positive test for marijuana.
"I'll never shy away from it because I did it," he said. "It's nothing to hide from. I did it and I'll own up to it for the rest of my life. Sometimes you make those mistakes and you man up and you move on. The Chiefs have believed in me and understood that I did that and they have nothing to worry about. I'm moving forward with my life. That's in the past."