Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines now top option


Cornerback E.J. Gaines had himself a very nice rookie year last year. He posted 70 tackles and finished the year with two interceptions. Gaines was a sixth round pick in the 2014 NFL daft out of Missouri. Gaines would increase his stats in almost every statistical category in four years of college. He would earn both All-Big 12 honors and All-SEC honors. Gaines would peak at five interceptions as a senior, and it would appear the Rams found a diamond in the rough when they selected him with the 188th overall pick one year ago.

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Gaines lines up across from fellow cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Gaines may not have the raw talent Jenkins has but is more controlled and provides better pass coverage. Jenkins has better ball skills, but leaves himself open to being beat too often in an attempt to make a play on the ball. Gaines also has the ability to play both the outside and the slot. He can step up and stop the run, or fall back in coverage. Starting 15 game as a rookie, Gaines has separated himself from Jenkins in short order.

Recently, Pete Prisco of cbssports.com, rated Gaines as the most underrated player on the St. Louis Rams roster heading into 2015. He spoke highly of his ability to play both the run and pass game, and mentioned he has outplayed Jenkins.

The defensive secondary has been an issue for the Rams in recent years. However, they seem to have the makings of something special up front which should help alleviate some pressure on the backside. Up and comers like free safety Rodney McLeod, strong safety T.J McDonald and recently acquired Mark Barron are beginning to gel in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams system.

Gaines will enter 2015 as the starting corner on the left side across from the ball hawker Jenkins. Trumaine Johnson, widely considered one of the best young prospects in the secondary, will also have opportunities to steal some starting time, but sits as third fiddle in this pecking order. They will be backed up by Marcus Roberson and Lamarcus Joyner respectively. The entire St. Louis secondary will need to have a coming of age season in 2015 if they expect to make their mark as a top unit in this league.