Cam Akers seems to be in an odd position in terms of his dynasty value and 2020 rookie draft outlook. It feels like there has been little chatter surrounding him in our Twitter bubble, yet he’s ranked highly on sites like Dynasty Happy Hour and Dynasty League Football. What’s the deal? Let’s dive into the Cam Akers Rookie Profile and see if there is cause for concern.
Throughout high school, Akers was actually a wild cat quarterback. He compiled over 8,000 passing yards to go along with 78 touchdowns and added another 5,000+ rushing yards and 71 touchdowns on the ground. These kinds of stats led him to be selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, USA Today’s 2016 All-USA First Team, as well as Gatorade’s 2016 Player of the Year for Mississippi. Akers was a consensus five-star recruit in the 2017 class, and according to the 247Sports Composite, came in as the number three overall recruit and the second-ranked running back. The eventual Florida State commit held 22 offers (via 247Sports) from schools such as Ohio State, LSU, and Georgia. He was verbally committed to Alabama, along with Najee Harris, for seven months before reopening his recruitment and landing in Tallahassee.
*Stats via College Football Reference.
When you look at Akers’ overall numbers, they don’t jump off the page compared to someone like Jonathan Taylor. This is where simply glancing over surface statistics can be incredibly misleading. Let’s look at some of Florida State’s offensive line metrics via Football Outsiders. In Akers’ three years at FSU, their offensive line never ranked higher than 112 (out of 130 FBS schools) in stuff rate – the percentage of carries running backs are stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage. In 2018 and 2019, the ‘Noles ranked 130th and 115th, respectively, in line yards per carry. The analysis there? That’s #bad. Across all three years, Akers accounted for less than 26% of Florida State’s scrimmage yards just once, per Expand the Boxscore. This came in his sophomore season when he posted a 19.4% share.
As you can imagine from the offensive line stats above, it wasn’t always pretty watching Akers. It’s easy to see how he wins, however, and how his game will translate to the NFL. Let’s dive into a few of my favorite things about Akers and how I see him succeeding at the next level.
Something Akers does extremely well is he keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage which allows him to keep his eyes downfield. This, along with constantly active footwork, is key for a running back’s vision and will allow him to have an immediate impact on whatever team drafts him in April. In his 2019 game against Boise State, he puts all of this together perfectly. Here, his shoulders remain square until right before the linebacker comes crashing through. Pay attention to his footwork as he works his way across the line of scrimmage and watch the physicality he finishes this run with.
Speaking of physicality, Akers is a strong, tough runner despite being listed at 5’11” and 212 pounds. He’s one of those runners that would rather run through a defender instead of juking them. Although I don’t want to see him delivering blows like in the clip above on every run, knowing he has this kind of strength will never be a strike against him. In this clip from Florida State’s 2019 game against Virginia, Akers literally tosses a defender to the side, sees the hole, and quickly gets upfield to secure the first down.
My favorite thing about Akers is his ability to use his jump cut effectively and to be able to gather himself and immediately make his next move. He’s very sudden and is able to freeze defenders for that split second to be able to get past them for extra yards. Here, against Louisville (2019), Akers is met as soon as the quarterback hands the ball off. Akers calmly sinks his hips and jump cuts to dodge the crashing linebacker, then immediately plants his feet and drives upfield.
As with any prospect, Akers is not perfect. For someone I expect to test very well at the NFL Combine, he’s not the most elusive running back, particularly in space. There were also times he left some yards on the field due to keeping most of his runs inside. Rarely would you see Akers try to bounce many runs to the outside, when it appeared he could have picked up extra yards had he done so. As a converted wildcat quarterback, Akers is still relatively new to the position, and therefore we may see some growing pains during his rookie campaign.
Unless he completely bombs the combine and is selected on day three of the NFL Draft, Akers will settle in the 1.05-1.08 range of your rookie drafts. With most classes, that’s a range I’d be looking to trade up or back from. The way this 2020 rookie class is shaping up, however, I’d love to hold those range of picks. If you can land Akers there, that’s a huge win for your dynasty squad.