Greg Gaines came to UW from La Habra High School in Orange County, California. He had committed to Chris Petersen at Boise State in 2014, and was one of a few guys Pete decided could fit at Washington as well (Jaylen Johnson and Drew Sample were a couple others). Gaines arrived with little fan fare, and many fans, myself included, weren’t blown away with the commitment from the 3-star DT. However, it didn’t take long to see that he embodied everything Chris Petersen wants in a footballer.
GFG entered a game the first time during his redshirt freshman season, replacing an injured Elijah Qualls. It was noticeable from his very first play that he was going to be a tough, space eating defensive tackle. On the West Coast, where it is increasingly difficult to find true “two gap” DTs (Vita Vea is the ultimate example of this), the Huskies got a good one in Gaines. People like me often overuse the word “stout” to describe an interior defender, but few words describe his game better. After spending 2 years earning Honorable Mention All Pac-12 honors, he earned 2nd team his junior year, before finally emerging as the first team DT in 2018. He also won the Morris Trophy, voted on by fellow players as the toughest lineman to face.
He finished his distinguished UW career with 148 total tackles, 20.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, and one amazing big guy interception.
Greg Gaines was a remarkably consistent performer for the Huskies in his four years. His sack, tackle, and TFL numbers generally improved every year, but from his first play, he showed an ability to hold his ground and not get blown off the ball. His raw strength, hustle, and motor help him play with a very strong anchor vs the run. You see when he attacks double teams - a lot of DTs can take those plays off - Gaines is a very willing fighter. He knows how to attack the crease of the double team and split it on occasion. He’s also pretty good at sliding off his block and making a tackle in the hole, before a running back gets too much space. While he doesn’t have a deep arsenal of pass rush moves, his bull rush is very powerful and can be used to create interior pressure. Gaines very clearly knows his strengths and plays to them.
Where teams might hesitate on Gaines is something he can’t control - his arm length. At 31 inches, his arms are firmly in the “stubby” category, according to scouts. This primarily hinders him when it comes to pass rushing and being more disruptive at the point of attack. He can sometimes get locked onto an OL and have a hard time disengaging because of that lack of length. He’s also not the most flexible and his change of direction could improve.
So, there are probably some better DTs out there in the draft, but there was a reason you kept hearing “no one wants to block Greg Gaines” coming out of senior bowl practice. He’s a load.
Greg Gaines should be drafted sometime on day 3, and possibly even day 2. His arm length likely makes him a non-starter for a number of teams, unfortunately. But, his play strength, production, motor, and attitude make him a good fit as a NT in a 4-3 scheme.
He displayed decent athleticism at the NFL combine, accruing a SPARQ score that would put him the 37th percentile of NFL DTs. It’s a fairly deep year for defensive tackles which makes me feel like he’s destined for day 3. However, he was problematic for the OL to block at the senior bowl so that could perhaps push him into day 2.
Yet in today’s NFL, pass rush is highly valued, and that is potentially the weakest part of Gaines game. So with that, I’m calling him a 5th-6th round pick.
Greg Gaines (DT #99) for Washington playing below pad level is great to see. Powerful, run stuffing DT playing at the LOS. Yes, please.— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) September 5, 2018
He's had 65 tackles, 13 TFL and 5 sacks over the last two years. He could certainly be a name we see at the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/Q1VbUogsG9
And of course, last but not least:
Congrats Greg, we will miss you wearing P&G! GO DAWGS!