We continue our breakdown of 1st round linebackers and look at an intriguing player in Akeem Ayers, an OLB for the UCLA Bruins. Ayers, before the combine, was projected to be a mid first-round pick. However, he ran a sub-par 40 time, which an area most scouts expected him to excel. At 6'2, 254, he can play either in a 4-3 OLB, or 3-4 OLB.
Ayers does a lot of things, and he does them pretty well - he plays very well against the run, can hold up in coverage, and can rush the passer, at least at the college level. He gets a good jump off the ball and is very instinctive. No off-the-field issues, and durability is not an issue.
What, then, is the issue with Ayers? He does a lot of things well, but he doesn't do anything that can give him the edge in the NFL. The team that selects Ayers is not getting a bona-fide pass rusher or a run stuffer. They just are getting a very solid football player. Not that that is a bad quality to have, but Jets fans that are looking for that terror off the edge may have to look elsewhere.
There is also some concern with his showing at the combine. While it is easy to look too much into the combine, the numbers can raise red flags. When a player who shows speed on tape shows up and runs slow in shorts, evaluators will have to go back to the tape and wonder if they are missing something. It's not something I would put a lot of stock into, but he could drop a few spots.
If the Jets really fall in love with Ayers, they will probably have to trade up a few spots. However, because of his unimpressive combine, he may fall to 30. What do you think? Would you draft Akeem Ayers?