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Chiefs mailbag: Phillip Gaines or KeiVarae Russell?

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It's raining, it's been a rough week at work, and it's 99 years until football season starts.

Only one thing to do to get through these hard times... close your eyes, grit your teeth, and read the mailbag.

Injuries are really the wild card there, aren't they? With Gaines, he's been nicked up and on the sidelines for the majority of his career to this point. Any time that happens it seems like we're skeptical of a guy's ability to stay healthy until he submits a full year or two without any issues.

Also, because of his injury issues, we don't really KNOW what Gaines is. All we've seen are flashes. Now, to be fair, some of those flashes have looked ridiculous. But we're talking about really small sample sizes.

To further muddy the waters, Matt Miller isn't the only analyst I've read praising Russell. I looked at what little tape was available after the draft (here if you're interested), but we're still looking at a small sample size AND that's broadcast view stuff, not all-22 (which makes it even less useful). That said, he's definitely got some intriguing traits and looks like he could hang at the NFL level if things go right.

At the end of the day, though, I stand by my borderline unreasonable man crush on Phillip Gaines. Like I've said elsewhere, Gaines has abnormal physical traits. He's very, very, very fast, and possesses good quickness as well. he's got long arms, and seems to be glued to receivers in and out of breaks and down the field. I think he's as sticky a corner as I've seen. The one drawback has been his health, and if we're removing that from the equation I believe he'll be a very good corner.

Additionally, I'm always cautious about putting much faith in rookie corners. Marcus Peters was a rarity. Most guys don't jump into the league and play well, even first round prospects. And even Peters had some struggles early on (and later in the year at a less frequent rate) dealing with double moves and a few small nuances to the pro game. Quarterbacks and receivers are just so, so, so, so much better in the NFL. It's almost impossible to be a genuinely GOOD corner your first season.

For all of those reasons, I don't see Russell beating out Gaines. Can't rule it out, but it doesn't seem likely to me barring Russell performing above what most rookies do AND Gaines not being able to live up to what he's done in a smaller sample size.

I figured it makes sense to put secondary questions right next to each other.

This is tough. On one hand, you've got a 3rd rounder, a 4th rounder, and a 6th rounder. So these are not prospects the NFL was beating down the door to draft (all due respect to the players drafted). On the flip side of that, all three of them have skillsets that seem CAPABLE of translating well to the pro level.

I guess for me it comes down to what one thinks of John Dorsey more than what one thinks of any of those guys individually. Do I think enough of Dorsey (and his scouting department) to believe that out of three players, one of them is likely to be a Pro Bowl level players when none of them are first round picks?

I look at the secondary choices Dorsey has made, and I'm generally impressed. He's found guys in the draft, in free agency, and on the waiver wire who have played well for the Chiefs. Even the less impressive guys Dorsey has picked for the team have shown flashes of ability. If there's any one area I feel most comfortable with John Dorsey's scouting and decision making, it's the secondary.

So because of that, I'll go ahead and say it's SLIGHTLY more likely that we've got a long term, Pro Bowl guy out of that group than all three washing out. And those of you who know my opinion of the draft (it's a crapshoot, mostly) know that's a pretty big departure for me. I think that highly of Dorsey's ability to find good secondary players.

Don't let me down, John.

For some reason, I'm really optimistic about the defense this season. I know people are worried about Justin Houston (as well they should be) and the corner situation (as well they should be), but I'm just confident in that group as a whole. Like I talked about above, I like Gaines and the young guys they've gathered, and I don't think the secondary takes too much of a step back.

At this point, the core of the defense has been together a few years. They've been in the system awhile. They know what they're doing. And the defensive line could shape up to be the strongest the Chiefs have had in decades (more on that later). I think they'll do just fine. Losing Sean Smith will hurt, but if Gaines is what I think he is and just one of the young fellas steps up, they'll do well.

Poe vs. Fisher is an interesting question, but I'm not sure that's really a choice that will need to be made. Their contracts end in different years. Poe is a free agent after this year, while Fisher is after 2017. Just that one year's difference will help when it comes to negotiations.

People view Fisher as a decision that HAS to be made this year given the large cap hit in 2017, but if he plays well enough that's not necessarily true. That extra year gives the Chiefs time to lock up Poe long term if that's the plan.

However, viewing "Poe vs. Fisher" in a vacuum, I choose Poe. I think he's a better overall player, and I think defensive line is more valuable than offensive line. As I've stated multiple times before, I'm not a big believer in LT being a "premium position" at this point. All 4 of the best edge rushers in the NFL generally come from the offense's right side (Houston, Watt, Mack, Miller), and defenses move guys around in the face of dominant left tackles.

Offensive line is about the sum of the parts. Having an average left tackle won't kill you. You just better make sure you don't have a lousy one (or a lousy lineman anywhere, for that matter). So if I have to pick between the two, it's Poe.

You know, I thought about this for a long time and I can't really think of a player I dislike. For me, even if a player isn't doing well that's not really cause to dislike him. He's (very likely) doing the very best he can and is simply being asked to do more than what he's capable of. It's not on a player if he's just not that good, at least not on a personal level.

I guess I would say the player who WORRIES me the most on the roster is LDT. He's got a ton of potential and I'm really rooting for him, but I'm terrified at the prospect of another season where 3-4 plays a game are destroyed before they even start due to a poorly timed lunge or slip.

It's nothing personal toward LDT, just a matter of what keeps me up at night (metaphorically speaking) regarding the Chiefs.

I have indeed played disc golf. It's pretty big in the area I live in, and I really enjoy it. I'm absolutely abysmal, but the beauty of disc golf (at least on non-expert courses) is that even if you completely suck at it, you don't COMPLETELY suck at it. You can still get by playing a little and have some fun.

This differentiates it from golf, where if you're unpracticed it destroys the fun for everyone, especially you. So you get all the pleasures of golf (the great outdoors, pretty courses, hanging with friends / family, leisurely strolls) without any of that necessary hours and hours and hours of practice to even be able to walk onto a course without feeling like a moron. Works for me.

All right, we'll stop there for the day and do this again soon. In the meantime, remember... together we will survive the offseason.