The new breed of NFL cornerbacks is to be physical and tall. E.J. Gaines is not the tallest cornerback in this class, but there is no denying his production during his time at Missouri. E.J. Gaines, Michael Sam, and Kony Ealy were key contributors for Missouri's defense. It should not come as a surprise to see all of them gone by the end of day two of the NFL draft. Let's take a look at eDraft's official scouting report for the prospect.
|Total Tackles ||Interceptions ||Pass Deflections |
|244 ||8 ||34 |
College production: E.J. Gaines was a four-year contributor at Missouri. Playing against competition in the Big 12 and in the SEC really helped Gaines grow as a cornerback. This will be a big factor to NFL teams during the draft process. While many cornerbacks will be more hyped-up, Gaines has the advantage because of the competition he played against in college.
Playing against the run: When you watch tape on Gaines, it's easy to see why he is a complete player. Gaines makes plays behind the line scrimmage consistently. Having a cornerback that plays as hard against the run as he does against the pass is something NFL teams like.
Has shut down elite college receivers: When Missouri played against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, Gaines went up against Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews. Both receivers will most likely get drafted by the middle of the second round. Against the two, Gaines held both to relatively bad games. He does have that shutdown capability that is crucial to a defense.
Size: As I said earlier, the NCAA is starting to breed taller cornerbacks to the NFL. Players like Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson are two cornerbacks that stand out. Both do not have game-breaking speed, but both are extremely physical at the line of scrimmage. At 5'10", Gaines' speed is alarming to some. But, there is no denying his production in college.
Speed: Gaines is not the fastest of the bunch. He lacks the acceleration speed that is sometimes needed to play cornerback. This could become a problem when Gaines goes up against receivers in the NFL. It will be interesting to see in the coming months if Gaines can improve his speed.
Health: A bunch of setbacks have occured to E.J. Gaines when he played in college. It's not like it was one main injury, but a plethora of injuries took a toll on how many snaps Gaines played in at Missouri. Gaines had a lingering hip problem in his senior season that affected how he turned his hips in pass coverage.
Darrelle Revis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Revis is not the fastest cornerback or the tallest cornerback, but Revis is and has been a big-time player in the NFL for years. With a similar frame, Gaines is very comparable to the Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
With a relatively strong cornerback group, Gaines is getting lost in the pack. Players like Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert are leading the pack of the class. But, neither played against competition that Gaines played against in college. As of now, Gaines is a day two prospect. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gaines get drafted in the second round in May's draft.
The San Diego Chargers are lacking playmakers in the secondary. If Gaines is drafted by the Chargers, he would immediately be a day one starter. He could also very well turn into San Diego's number one cornerback as soon as 2015.
Other possible fits include the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and the Washington Redskins.