Cam Akers: Overlooked and Undervalued?

Name: Cam Akers

Position: Running Back

School: Florida State

Height: 5’ 10”

Weight: 217

Cam Akers is a victim of his team.  Despite the Seminoles’ 18-20 record the last three seasons, Akers was able to make his own yards on an offense that otherwise had trouble doing so.  He’s largely being pushed down dynasty rookie drafts due to the overall strength of this class.  The 20-year old RB has shown many of the traits needed to thrive in the NFL.  Let’s take a closer look at what he does well, and also what he needs to work on.

Running Back:

-Vision/Instincts: His vision is one of the better parts of his game, which is how he was able to squeeze production out of an offensive line that seemed averse to it.  Anticipates oncoming defenders and helps himself by making subtle adjustments to evade them.  Quick, almost instant reactions to what’s going on around him.  He’s almost too good at seeing the field as there are times when it appears his field analysis causes him to hesitate a fraction of a second longer than needed.  This slight hesitation while processing could cost him yards if he’s not careful.  

-Elusiveness: Smooth, natural runner who has no wasted motion between seeing an obstacle and avoiding it.  Makes needed adjustments to running motions without losing speed or momentum.  Has enough power to run through arm tackles and has the balance to stay upright while doing so.  One thing that is a bit concerning is that he doesn’t seem to avoid the big hits.  Defenders have a habit of really landing some big blows on him which could lead to health and durability issues.

-Outside running: Turned in a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Combine which indicates he has sufficient speed to get the edge at the next level.  Despite the numbers, he doesn’t show the sudden burst or explosiveness that gives him an edge in this category.  He would get there and produce in college on the rare occasion he was asked to, but I’m not sure this will be a big part of his game in the NFL.  When he gets the ball in his hand via a reception on the outside, he is very dangerous due to his ability to make things happen.  However, when rushing from the backfield, he’s less effective.  This could also be in part due to the offense line woes.  

-Inside running/Power: Nice size/speed combo with desired pro build on his frame.  Makes defenders pay for initiating contact.  Generally does not go down to first contact.  Has powerful thick legs that grind into contact. Good at slowing down and changing trajectory when needed to help his blockers get into position.  Consistently able to grind for an extra yard or two. When a lane is there, he plants a foot and gets through in a hurry. 

-Home Run Ability: As I eluded to earlier, the quick burst characteristics just haven’t been there with Akers.  He has speed to get the job done, but he’s not someone who is going to have massive yardage explosions on a regular basis.  He’s not suddenly getting to top speed which allows would be tacklers to close the gap on him. I believe this goes back to the duration of his mental processing abilities I mentioned above while he’s assessing the field.  This trait may be able to be coached out of him.  I’m sure he is a bit traumatized by the subpar blocking at Florida State.  The poor line is a reoccurring theme in this article, but I think any evaluation of Akers would be incomplete without spotlighting how much production was created out of nothing.  This could be area where he sees a big uptick in production if he lands in the right spot with easily identifiable running lanes ahead of him.

-Ball Security: He had 10 fumbles on 586 attempts in his career.  That’s not ideal.  I do think that more of a concentration issue than mechanics though.  It looks as though he’s focused on where he’s headed and forgets about the chaos around him.  The focus issue is perhaps his biggest flaw and could be the main factor in his future success.  

-Blocking/Blitz Pick-up: Akers was asked to do plenty of blocking in college since the offensive line needed all the help they could get.  He has the frame to stand up to pass rushes.  Shows good ability to get low and square up to pressure and the strength to win at the point of contact.  For so many rookies, the lack of opportunity or general unwillingness to block keeps them on the bench.  This will not be the case for Akers and is a direct path to playing time and thus opportunity for him to find the field.

-Hands: Accumulated 69 receptions in college for 486 yards for an average of 7.0 YPC.  He is typical of a pass catching running back in that most of his receiving work was done in the flat, on a screen, or on a short outlet pass.  Akers made the most out of these receptions with his ability to make guys miss after contact.  He is dangerous in space and this part of his game is a weapon that can be exploited at the next level.  Mostly feels natural as a receiver, but saw a few instances where he struggled to make difficult catches out of his comfort zone.  

– Final Thoughts:  According to Pro Football Focus, 80% of Akers’ average yards per carry came after contact.  This indicates even further how bad the offensive line was in front of him.  Akers also played quarterback in high school which could be seen as a gadget tool that is appealing to coaches and general managers alike.  He’s still being seen as a top prospect despite putting up numbers that don’t jump off the page.  The lack of eye popping numbers is exactly what is going to drive up his value.  He doesn’t pop like a Swift or a Taylor but he was working with a disadvantage that those players didn’t have.  Akers had very little help.  He was a one man offense.  It’s actually remarkable that he was able to stand out amongst guys who were in more opportune situations to succeed.  The fumble issues are concerning, but he fumbled at a lower rate than Jonathan Taylor and most believe he’s going to be just fine.  It is my feeling that Cam Akers is the type of runner who will benefit from sharing a backfield rather than being the main attraction, but in todays NFL workhorse backs are few and far between.  

Projected Draft Round: 2 – 3

Question Marks: Will coaching correct he ball security issues?  Is he going to excel in an NFL setting behind an offensive line far superior to anything he’s played behind?

Comp: Mark Ingram

Team Fit: Dolphins, Falcons, Arizona

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