Packers Prospect Profile — OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Position: Outside Linebacker
Height: 6’4” Weight: 255 lbs
Birthdate: July 10, 1989 Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
2. High School/College highlights:
In high school Ayers was named a Super Prep All American and was chosen as a four-star recruit at defensive end by scouts.com and rivals.com . Also played on offense in high school catching four passes for 132 yards. At UCLA, he was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 in 2009 and placed third in voting for the Dick Butkus award honoring college football’s best linebacker in 2010. Ayers also was a team captain in 2010 and finished as a second team All-American.
3. College stats: After three seasons: 183 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 29.5 tackles for a loss and six interceptions
4. NFL Scouting Combine results: 4.81 40 yard dash, 7.49 three cone drill, 4.28 20 yard shuttle, 18.0 bench press, 31.0 vertical jump, 116 broad jump.
5. Strengths/Weaknesses: Ayers plays a very fast brand of football, as can be seen in his 40 time despite his size. He has a very good burst and is an excellent pass rusher. As a rookie, he would bring immediate impact to any team looking to significantly improve its blitzing ability. He also has strong intangibles and was very honest about where he needed to improve during interviews at the NFL Combine. College players that enter the NFL not expecting to light the world on fire right away often have a higher success rate than those who think they will take over the league in their first year.
On the down side, there are concerns with Ayers’ lower body. With a smaller body mass in his legs, Ayers is forced to tackle high and that could be a problem when it comes to stopping NFL backs. He developed a reputation in college as more of a pass rushing specialist so it will more than likely take time for him to acclimate to the running game in the NFL. There also are some doubts about his ability to learn complex defensive schemes. His performance at UCLA dropped off in 2010 slightly, leading to questions that once he was figured out he had a hard time adapting to working around some double teams.
6. Fit for the Packers: While he definitely would not be a reach of Justin Harrell proportions, the possibility of Ayers being drafted by the Green Bay Packers is doubtful at best. One reason for that is the Packers have not decided what to do with Nick Barnett and some of the other linebackers yet and can’t do anything period roster-wise until the NFL ends its lockout of current players.
Still, Dom Capers did wonders with players taken off the street and could perhaps find a diamond in the rough in Ayers. Capers could easily find use for Ayers’ pass rushing ability and have him hone his run stopping skills behind other players. That’s the true beauty of the scheme Capers and his staff have installed: you can utilize young players’ strengths right away while developing their weaknesses at the same time.
He’s not worth a first round pick but should he fall in the second, the Packers may take a long look at Ayers before deciding whether or not to draft him.
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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke