Ever since taking over as General manager, Les Snead has done most of his rebuilding through the draft. From time to time he has signed the occasional big name free agents like Cortland Finnegan and Jared Cook to help expedite the process, but he has had the most success bringing in new talent as opposed to “proven” talent.
Heading into the offseason the St. Louis Rams’ biggest need was at their secondary. After releasing Cortland Finnegan, only safety TJ McDonald and cornerback Janoris Jenkins seemed to have their positions secure. During the draft the Rams used quite a few of their draft picks on help for the secondary. There are a few names that could fly under the radar and find themselves in the rotation.
Florida State CB Lamarcus Joyner is a versatile player who could easily be a starter for the Rams this year, but E.J. Gaines out of Missouri is a name Rams fans should have an eye out during organized team activities.
If Gaines were to make it on to the field for the Rams as a 6th round rookie, it would not be the first time he makes an immediate impact. As a true freshman the rookie cornerback played in 13 games and recorded 26 tackles. The following season he took over as the starter and in his final season at Missouri he tallied a career-high 75 tackles.
Gaines is not afraid to step up during high-pressure games as he showed that during the SEC championship game against Auburn. He had an 11-yard run for a touchdown that night to put Missouri up 17-14 at the moment.
The Missouri cornerback is an aggressive cornerback who can also play the run well. Gaines has a great football IQ and he is excellent at recognizing the routes. What makes Gaines such a good football player is that he loves to go out and hit. Sometimes it is the intangibles that make the difference between a good player and a great one. In addition to Gaines being a solid cornerback, he is also a proven special teams coverage guy.
I do not believe Gaines will make it as a number one starter, but will fit well in nickel packages. The coaches want to make sure they place line him up against someone he can handle as lacks a quick burst and recovery which can be costly in todays NFL.
Some of the other rookies that will be vying for some playing time along with Gaines are Christian Bryant and out of Ohio State and Maurice Alexander out of Utah State, but out of that group Gaines looks like he could be a dark horse in this race.