The Physical, No Nonsense Approach
The Physical, No Nonsense Approach
The NFL Combine has opened the eyes of everyone on the amazing athlete that is Cam Akers. With a 40 yard dash of 4.47, and a 4.42 on the 20 yard shuttle, he proves to be one of the premier athletes at the RB position in 2020. There is no question, his collegiate production was hampered by some of the shittiest offensive line play during his time at Florida St. so getting to the 2nd level was a rare occurrence for him. But when he did get there, he punished defensive backs to the fullest extreme.
So, what does Akers actually bring to the table? Point blank, he is a tenacious runner with explosiveness who isn't afraid to punch you in the mouth. That is what stands out most about Akers’ game in comparison to other backs in this class.
Superior Contact Balance
Cam Akers could fight a bull on a balancing beam. Regardless if he is in space or in traffic, he consistently keeps his pads square allowing him to maintain balance. In many instances, while grinding tape, I noticed him leaning towards the contact. As most backs lean away, Cam doesn't, and it's a beautiful thing to watch. This allows him to absorb the contact more efficiently which gives him the opportunity to stay balanced.
A sign of a great back is working through multiple engagements as Cam Akers had to do with one of the nation's worst offensive lines. While constantly getting met in the backfield with unexpected visitors, he was usually able to make the most of it. He didn't have many clean lanes, but it did allow Akers to evolve his instincts because of how quickly he experienced contact at times. Practice makes perfect and he had a lot of practice working through unplanned contact and solving problems behind the line of scrimmage.
In The Short Area
Akers has a nice combination of force and finesse when he is absorbing 'or delivering' blows. He usually creates just enough space to get free, and while doing so, he doesn't rapidly decelerate as contact is made. He wins leverage battles with defenders consistently which allows him to gain additional yardage, even if it's just one or two.
Akers shows incredible instincts in the short areas, and regularly chains together moves around the line of scrimmage. As a viewer, we often put too much emphasis on top speed and downhill abilities, but let's not forget, the NFL is often played in a vacuum. The RB position demands effective short area movements and Akers is the man at it.
Akers is a natural pass catcher, and can be a legitimate downfield threat for an NFL offense. Angle routes are a huge part of his receiving capabilities out of the backfield. Akers shows the abilities to deceive linebackers in coverage. Fooling them to turn their hips the wrong way. While he doesn't have the dramatic movement tools of the great route runners at the position, his athletic ability helps him gain separation. Cam Akers will prove to be a reliable option in the short to intermediate areas as a pass catcher.
Ok, this might not seem like a big deal for your fantasy team, but guess what? It took a few years of the "Free Aaron Jones" movement to come to fruition because of the same concerns. Cam Akers is a legitimate liability in pass blocking scenarios. Can he get better? Sure, but it will take time. He does try scanning for blitzes, but never positions himself properly to pick up the block. I know some of this is due to the offensive line letting guys through during every dropback, but this is definitely a concern.
My biggest knock on Akers as he makes his transition to the NFL is he isn't the greatest at anticipating moves of faster defenders. In the open field, sometimes he makes unnecessary moves that slow him down. This allows defensive backs to correct what could have been bad angles. Akers rarely manipulates the second level, and too often makes the incorrect decision when holes do open. But in one on one scenarios, good luck.
Chris Carson is the guy. And not only for his physicality. Akers averaged a fumble every 65.5 touches. He fumbled 10 times in 3 seasons. This will be a concern for front offices looking to draft him.
It will probably take about a half season before Cam Akers catches up to processing differences that the NFL creates, but with a stable system and a patient coaching staff, Akers can thrive. A nice zone scheme is the ideal fit for Cam. #Beastmode?