Former Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines tried to keep his mind off the NFL Draft during the last three days.
He shot pool and played video games while surrounded by family, but awaiting his professional fate was never far from his mind.
Gaines, a Fort Osage graduate, hoped to be selected by Friday before the third round was concluded.
Instead, he was forced to wait into Saturday and endure 88 more picks before the Rams took him in the sixth round with the 188th overall selection.
While the wait was long, much longer than he expected, Gaines, was no less thrilled to join the NFL.
“I wouldn’t say disappointed, more surprised, but like I said, there’s very few people that get this chance to get drafted in the first place, so it’s a blessing,” Gaines said. “I know that going in I’m going to do whatever I have to, to be able to get on the field, so I’m excited.”
Gaines intercepted eight passes in his career at Missouri, including five as a senior. He also was a tremendous asset and sure tackler in run support.
He hopes those skills will help him find time on the field in St. Louis.
“I think there’s plenty of things I can bring to the Rams as far as going inside and playing the nickel, playing outside at corner, even moving back and playing some safety,” Gaines said. “I’ll do whatever I have to, to get on the field. If it’s special teams, inside, outside, safety, it doesn’t matter. I’ll do whatever I have to.”
Of course, playing at the Edward Jones Dome won’t be a new experience for Gaines, who helped lead Fort Osage to the Missouri Class 5 championship game there in 2009.
He also played in the dome as a freshman with the Tigers, a 23-13 season-opening win against Illinois.
Gaines said that returning to St. Louis will bring back memories and that he’s “excited to get back in there and make some more plays.”
As Gaines’ wait dragged on, the Rams were one of the last teams he expected to hear from. He hadn’t been in contact with St. Louis, but he’s thrilled with how it worked out.
“It’s a blessing, especially to stay close to home, close to where I played college football,” Gaines said. “I’m excited to play for (Rams) coach (Jeff) Fisher.”
Gaines already has some friends in the Rams’ locker room, too.
The Rams’ roster includes three other former Missouri players — center Tim Barnes, wide receiver T.J. Moe and defensive end Michael Sam, who was drafted in the seventh round on Saturday.