With defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gone, the Rams needed a replacement next to Aaron Donald. As they entered the third day of the 2019 draft, they knew who they wanted to fill that role — and they got him.
“The first priority was to try to figure out how we could get to a spot in the draft and draft [Greg] Gaines to fill the nose tackle-type spot in our base defense,” G.M. Les Snead told reporters on Saturday.
They got Gaines, at the bottom of round four. Still, Snead stopped short of handing Gaines the starting job.
“He’s going to get a chance to compete, but he is a guy that we identified that we feel like really will do a great job as a nose guard in our base package,” Snead said. “You look at a physical, stout player. He was an outstanding, productive player for Washington. But then when you get a chance to really watch the Senior Bowl, where he’s going against some of the best interior linemen in this draft, guys that we really thought highly of — I think you got a sense for what a competitive player he is. A guy that loves football, kind of in the mold of what you’ve heard us talk about.
“What Greg was able to do at Washington and then when you see the production he had at the Senior Bowl, that really is what we felt really strongly about. I think some of the things we talked about — how we get better specific to our scheme, but then also defensively in terms of playing the run a little bit better. I think that will be a key factor of being really stout inside and we feel like Greg will provide that.”
Gaines was asked whether he thinks he can play right away.
“I think so,” he told reporters. “I’m really strong. I got good technique, quickness, and I’m pretty smart. I think that’s one of my biggest assets. I learn the playbook fast and I’m good at studying offenses, so I think I can make an impact right away.”
He’ll be making that impact in his hometown. Because his hometown didn’t have an NFL team until three years ago, he’s never even been to an NFL game.
“My first NFL game, I’ll be playing in it, hopefully,” Gaines said.
The Rams surely hope so, too.