2011 NFL Draft Player Profile | Akeem Ayers
Akeem Ayers was a three year starter for Verbum Dei High School in the center of Los Angeles. Ayers came out of high school as a four star recruit, and was ranked as the top defensive end in the entire state of California.
It’s hard to believe that Ayers was both a defensive end, and a wide receiver in high school. He wasn’t nearly as dominant as a receiver, however, as he only totaled around 25 receptions a season. Ayers didn’t see any time as a true freshman, but he started to make an impact in his sophomore year only to start every game for the Bruins in 2009 and 2010 as a SAM linebacker.
Player Name: Akeem Ayers
Position: Outside Linebacker
Ayers is quite athletic for a man of his size. Close to 260 pounds, Ayers moves well laterally, and is excellent in pursuit of the ball carrier. He is a smart player that is good at diagnosing the play and reacting quickly. He does well maintaining outside contain, staying home and not getting caught out of position. Ayers is quite versatile. He lined up as a defensive end, inside linebacker, outside pass rusher, and strong side line backer in a 4-3 base. When he does pass rush, he gets up field in a hurry and comes down the line strong. Ayers excels in coverage, doing a nice job staying in his zone and also is great in shoving receivers off of their routes inside five yards.
Despite Ayers’ size, he lacks good strength. He struggles to get off of blockers, and while he doesn’t get pushed back, he doesn’t disengage and make the tackle. Too often Ayers is caught trying to make an arm tackle. He’s not a great wrap up tackler in the open field as he fails to break down and use fundamentals. He doesn’t have great change of direction when playing in space as well, and has been known to over pursue every once in awhile.
Ayers could go in the late first round to a team like New Orleans, Seattle, Atlanta, or New England. However, he could fall into the middle of the second round, where it’s most likely he’ll be scooped up in a hurry. Despite not showing a great pass rush, he still fits as a project in the 3-4 defense as a utility outside linebacker who plays more in coverage but rushes the passer at times. Arizona, Tennessee, Washington, Houston, Minnesota, Detroit and St. Louis will take a hard look at Ayers in the second round, and I have a hard time believing all of those teams will pass on a natural talent like him in the middle of the second round.
NFL Comparison: Mike Vrabel