Not too many people know about Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines, but maybe they should. He's really jumped in my rankings after doing a thorough eval of him. I know we're not really hurting on corners at the moment, but if the New York Giants don't or can't extend Prince Amukamara, or if they decide not to re-up Walter Thurmond and let go of Jayron Hosley, a need can arise again. Let's take a look at Gainsts and see why I like him so much.
- Swagger. He's aggressive and plays confident. I certainly think playing corner is 50 percent mental, and his mentality is perfect for the job.
- Stays disciplined. Doesn't bite on double moves.
- Fantastic run defender from the corner position. Knows how to shed blocks and make open field tackles
- Great motor. Will hustle to plays he isn't involved in.
- Great awareness as a zone corner. Switches flawlessly and again, stays disciplined in his area.
- Above average reaction time and change of direction ability.
- Plays much bigger than he actually is.
- Doesn't fight for the ball at the catch point. Consistently comes in a bit late after a move and that means he allows a few too many catches.
- I see him as an outside corner only. Needs to play the boundary to be successful, so versatility is limited.
- Not enough speed to win consistently when playing man, likely limited to zone only.
- Short armed and only average sized at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds with 30 and 3/8-inch arms.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Considering that Perry Fewell likes to play zone quite a bit, yes, he certainly fits. He's physical, plays the run exceptionally well, which seemingly is a trait that all recent Giants defensive backs have shared. He isn't low on confidence and will try and challenge any and all completed passes. Some knock him for his scheme limitations and his size, but I didn't see it as a huge obstacle.
EJ Gaines (CB Missouri) vs Oklahoma State, 2014 Cotton Bowl (via Aimal Arsalla)
As always, thanks to draftbreakdown for their excellent tape.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 92
Mocking The Draft - 132
CBS Sports - 121
Draft Countdown - 160
Draft Tek - 148
It seems I'm quite alone on my eval as shown by the grades given by the other reputable draft sites. I personally gave him a low-second round grade. It might be my inherent bias to grade everything on a "Giants" scale, but his versatility limitations don't bother me because he's a fit for New York. His physical length is certainly a deterrent to his upside, but when I was watching him, what I saw was a slightly bigger, zone playing, better run defensing Trumaine McBride. The 2013 Trumaine McBride, not the journeyman kind.
That's the type of scrappy, confident, intelligent player that I want on the team. He doesn't play man nearly as well as McBride does nor can he fight at the catch point as well, but he is masterful switching between zones and locking on to targets in his area. If he falls into the fourth or fifth round, which according to everybody else he will, he'd definitely be somebody on my radar despite the abundance of cornerbacks on the Giants' roster.