EJ Gaines NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for St. Louis Rams CB

Ian WhartonContributor IFebruary 12, 2014

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07: E.J. Gaines #31 of the Missouri Tigers dives across the endzone to score a touchdown after recovering a fumble in the second quarter against the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri (HT: 5’9⅝”, WT: 190 lbs)

St. Louis Rams

Sixth Round: 188th Pick 

NFL Comparison: Chris Harris, CB, Denver Broncos

Combine Weigh In
HeightWeightArmHands
509519030 1/4"9 1/4"
NFL.com
Combine Results
40-yard dash10-yard splitVertBroad3-ConeShuttle
4.49N/ADNPDNPDNPDNP
NFL.com

Positives

  • Possesses a strong, muscular frame.
  • Good distance speed that complements his physicality.
  • Most comfortable in zone defense after primarily playing in a Cover 3 scheme. 
  • Able to force defenders to the sideline while in Cover 2, forcing receivers off of their route pattern. By moving the receiver closer to the sideline, there is a lesser margin for error for the offense. 
  • Excellent eye discipline and rarely allows the quarterback to lead him away from the target receiver. Reacting to the quarterback's eye movement and progressions is highly important in zone schemes. 
  • Stout against the run; he has the mindset of a linebacker.
  • Good form tackler in space; mirrors the ball-carrier, then wraps and follows through the tackling motion.
  • Experience as a boundary corner and nickel back, often switching between spots on subsequent defensive series.
  • Plays larger than his height suggests; he always contests passes, even against large receivers.
  • Difficult to see Gaines wash out of the league since he does everything at least decently.
  • Low-ceiling, high-floor player, but there is value in a depth player that is willing to play hard on special teams. 
  • Three-year starter that amassed impressive tackle numbers.

 

Negatives

  • Lacks average lateral quickness, change of direction and foot speed. He will have a difficult time becoming a consistent performer due to the lack of natural athleticism. 
  • Pad level is inconsistent during backpedal, so he will need technique refinement to enhance short-area burst, but even a technical increase won't produce a dramatic increase in natural quickness.
  • Footwork will need to be cleaned up, especially for a man scheme; he wastes too many steps in and out of breaks and pivots.
  • Sometimes loses track of the receiver and focuses on the eyes of the quarterback, allowing the receiver to settle in behind his zone. There's a balance that has to be met with better anticipation, which he does not have right now. 
  • Not a lockdown defender in any scheme or position; probably not an instant impact as a rookie. 
  • He doesn't have much experience on special teams, so he will need to buy in to becoming a contributor there. 
  • Burn percentage of 33 percent for the entire 2013 season while in coverage, which is below average for a quality NFL defensive back prospect. 
Collegiate Statistics
YearTeamTacklesPDINT
2010Missouri2610
2011Missouri69182
2012Missouri74121
2013Missouri7535
http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/ej-gaines-1.html

  

Personal Notes

  • Earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a first-year starter in 2011.
  • Ranked as the ninth-best player in Missouri as a high school recruit.
  • Will graduate with a degree in business management.
  • Served as a referee for little league basketball games in his spare time.

 

Ratings Chart

Graph made by http://nces.ed.gov

Overall

Gaines was able to experience playing against top-level competition every week in the SEC, and he played well in his senior season. His best scheme fit will be in a zone-base defense, preferably Cover 2, where he can focus on redirecting the receiver and using his ball skills to make plays. A master of none, Gaines will need to play special teams to get on the field, but he’s good enough to stick around the NFL as a depth player.

 

Draft Projection: Fourth Round