The Los Angeles Rams took many by surprise after selecting a running back for their first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Fans argued they needed to address the offensive line or EDGE position. The Rams’ front office disagreed and picked Florida State running back Cam Akers with their second round selection, 52nd overall pick.
Akers will add talent to a Rams running back corps that will no longer be a one workhorse show. With the exit of Todd Gurley, the Rams still have Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson and John Kelly. Akers’s selection makes a running back-by-committee a certainty and proves that the Rams wanted to address the backfield issue.
Akers was the only player drafted out of FSU this year. He competed in a tough Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2019 and had success despite a sub-par offensive line. The Seminoles were 6-7 and Akers’s ground game was what kept them alive. Here is what he brings to the Rams.
Stats and Honors:
2019: 231 carries for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns; 30 receptions for 225 yards and four touchdowns
Career: 586 carries for 2,875 yards and 27 touchdowns; 69 receptions for 486 yards and seven touchdowns
Honors: 2019 second-team All-ACC, 2019 three-time ACC Running Back of the Week, 2018 Bobby Bowden Leadership Award, broke FSU freshman rushing record in 2017 with 1,025 yards
Akers’s explosiveness and cutting ability will be a welcome attribute for the Rams’ running game. He has the speed and strength to break tackles in addition to having strong balance. His shiftiness and spin moves caused his legs to slip right through many defenders’ arms, causing missed tackles in several games. He can also power through defenders and punished tacklers in the open field.
Akers can do it all as a running back. He can rush, block and receive. He is also a trained as a quarterback from his high school days in Clinton, Mississippi. While in high school, he played four years on the varsity team and tallied 8,140 passing yards and 78 touchdowns in addition to 5,103 rushing yards and 71 touchdowns. This is intriguing because Akers could be used in trick play packages, especially since Sean McVay likes to slip in a few trick plays on offense.
The Rams may also have a fullback option in some schemes. Akers can be a stout pass protector who sticks to the immediate threats quickly. At, 5’11,” 212 pounds, he matches well with the rest of the running back corps. His 4.47 40 yard-dash time at the NFL Combine is also impressive.
Akers had trouble with ball security with a career 10 fumbles, seven of which he lost. He will need to be coached on those fundamentals to be NFL-ready. Akers will need to improve slightly on his route running and timing in receiving plays, but he does have decent hands. His vision is good, but he tends to scan the terrain which causes delays while he finds openings. Although he is a decent pass blocker, his blocking needs improvement. He will sometimes take the wrong assignment, but that may also have been due to his experience dealing with the poor offensive line at FSU.
Expectations in 2020:
One might think a weak offensive line at FSU is analogous to the Rams’ troubled offensive line. Akers may be a good fit in that regard since he has dealt with the task of making up for that fault in the offense in college. The reality is the Rams offensive line will improve with experience and re-positioning of players in 2020. Akers may have even more success with an improving O-line.
A re-invigorated offense led by a running back-by-committee along with other weapons at the Rams disposal will strengthen the Rams and make them more competitive. With his talent, there is no doubt that the Rams want to see him in action sooner than later.