Akeem Ayers Scouting Report

Posted: January 4, 2011 by Larry McDaniel Jr. in 3-4 Inside Linebacker, 3-4 Outside Linebackers, Prospects 11-20
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#18, Akeem Ayers (6’4 250 lbs.) – UCLA Bruins


Instincts/Recognition: Not a very instinctual athlete when lining up at inside linebacker. Tends to think a lot on the field, which causes some timid reactions at times. Not the type of linebacker to read a play and attack it downhill. Often waits for ball carriers to come to him. When lining up at outside linebacker, does a good job of recognizing the run. Isn’t fooled often on delays or misdirection plays. Recognizes route combinations when playing in zone coverage. Is sometimes late to react to play actions or screen plays.

Strength/Toughness: Ayers is tall and lean. Isn’t overly powerful at the point of attack. Doesn’t consistently wrap up. Uses his shoulders to make tackles too often. Ball carriers can break free from his grasp. When he does secure the tackle, he is more of a pull down tackler than a lift and drive your hips tackler. Does take on lead blockers and lineman extremely well. Is never afraid to stick his nose in the action.

Range vs. Run: Is a natural athlete with the gift of speed and quickness. Doesn’t use his speed often enough. Can play sideline to sideline. When lining up at outside linebacker, he does a great job at stringing out plays, and forcing backs to either go out of bounds or cut back into traffic. Has long arms and uses them quite well. Keeps them extended when blockers attempt to engage. Scraps the line of scrimmage well, even with linemen attached to him. Does well at wading through traffic and finding ball carriers. Is sometimes undisciplined when it comes to keeping contain on the backside. Motor runs hot and cold.

Pass Rush: Doesn’t have a bevy of pass rushing moves, but can get to the quarterback. Long arms help him fend off offensive tackles. Uses his speed and explosiveness quite nicely when rushing the passer. Must learn to use his hands a little bit more. Also, must learn how to counter offensive linemen. Doesn’t possess adequate power to man handle linemen with a bull rush or inside move. Excels at getting his hands up to deflect passes. In fact, in 2009 he intercepted two passes he deflected at the line of scrimmage and returned them both for touchdowns.

3rd Down Capabilities: Ayers is very versatile. Has experience playing defensive end, outside linebacker, and inside linebacker. At any given point he can line up at one of the above mentioned positions. On third downs he can drop in to underneath zone coverage, rush the passer, or man up on a tight end. Does a good job with underneath coverage, but man coverage is a little suspect.

Intangibles: Multi-year team captain. 2010 3rd Team AP All-American.

Overall Stock: Akeem Ayers is one of the more versatile players in the 2011 draft. Unlike most college linebackers, Ayers produces numbers in every stat box. In his sophomore and junior year, he racked up a total of 141 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 6 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. So as you can see, he is definitely a playmaker. There are still questions about what position he’ll play in the NFL. He has the tools to play any one of the four linebacker positions in a 3-4. I tend to think he is best suited as a  sam outside linebacker. When he lines up as an outside linebacker, his athletic abilities really shine. He becomes more dynamic and tends to be more decisive. If he does get placed on the inside, he’ll need to learn to use his speed at all times. Become more physical at the point of attack, and be more aggressive. Ayers grades out high, and one of the fifth-teen 3-4 teams will take him In the 1st round. 

NFL Comparison: Shaun Phillips


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