Akeem Ayers, OLB/DE, UCLA Bruins
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Akeem Ayers shows promise as a pass rusher, as he accelerates well and has good speed, but there is still some work to be done in that department. He shows good instincts and is very quick off of the snap. He relies on his quick burst and his agility to blow by offensive linemen rather than taking them on and going through them. Yet, he does possess good strength even if he could stand to add some strength and bulk to his frame..
He pursues the ball carrier well and has shown patience when playing the run. He is more of a chase-down, agile style of defender against the run as he does not really work by filling gaps and clogging lanes. He shows good coverage skills and matched up with tight ends in the short-range. He does a good job in the zone, but can match up with running backs in the man-to-man coverage as well. Ayers is a good tackler and shows good form. He isn't the type of player that will dive at the ball carrier or go for the highlight hit when he can instead make a good tackle.
Ayers shows promise as a pass rusher, but there are still strides to be made. For instance, he doesn't have the deepest arsenal of pass rush moves and could stand to get stronger to help him get off of blocks at the line of scrimmage when rushing the passer and when playing the run. At the next level, he may struggle initially when engaged by offensive linemen whether against the run or the pass. He isn't the type of defender who will be found mixing it up and getting down in the trenches on every play, but rather relies on his speed and acceleration to make the play. That isn't necessarily a weakness, but rather a way to define the way he plays the position.
Ayers played in various spots on the field as a Bruin, lining up as a weakside and strongside linebacker and even played a little defensive end as well. As a pro, Ayers is very versatile. A team could look at him as a 4-3 defensive end, a 3-4 outside linebacker, or even a 4-3 outside linebacker or 3-4 inside linebacker. Once he develops more as a pass rusher, he will probably be used as a 3-4 outside pass rusher, but a team could look to put him at one of the inside spots in a 3-4 system initially..
Potential NFL Team, Round
There are several teams that could look at Ayers in the first round. He could go as high as #5 to the Arizona Cardinals depending on his pre-draft workouts or with the seventh pick to the San Francisco 49ers. The Houston Texans, picking 11th, could look to add players who might fit in their new 3-4 defense. The Detroit Lions, who pick at #13, have been a popular landing spot for the UCLA product, while the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers are interesting possibilities in the middle of the round. There are plenty of possibilities should Ayers slide into the second half of the round including the New Your Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. With the promise that Ayers shows as a pass rusher and his skill set already well-rounded, there will be a team that takes him with their first pick.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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