E.J. Gaines – Cornerback
Gaines is a fourth year senior and a three year starter for the Tigers. He lines up on the left side. Missouri is predominantly a zone coverage defense, and Gaines is very good in zone. He has good size for the position at about 5’11 – 195 with long arms. He is a good athlete with quick feet, loose hips, and good overall body control. He has good, not great, play speed, and I estimate that he runs in the 4.5 range. He shows a good pedal and turn and has a nice burst coming out of his turn. His footwork is good, and he can move well in transition.
In zone, Gaines does a very good job keeping receivers in front of him. He is aware and will look to help out when free. He tries to be physical and does a good job re-routing receivers. He reacts well to the ball in the air and has good hands to make an interception. To date, he has four interceptions this year.
What I don’t see with Gaines, is press man coverage. Missouri will play off man, but in the tapes viewed, I never saw him in press, so it’s impossible to grade his jam and his ability to react in man. He supports the run very well. He reacts quickly to the run, can take on and shed blocks, and is a sure tackler who hits and wraps.
It’s difficult to give Gaines a fair grade because we don’t see him in press man. He can definitely play in zone schemes, but until scouts and coaches see him in press, he is a bit of a wildcard. If Gaines is invited to play in an all-star game, we should be able to see him play some man. His workouts for NFL coaches in the spring will answer many questions as well.