Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
(percentile rank among all RBs at Combine since 1999, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds (78th)
Vertical: 35.5 inches (63rd)
Broad: 122 inches (76th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.42 seconds (16th)
Akers wasn’t some average high school prospect. The Mississippi native earned 5-star status by flashing dual-threat talent. Think 8,140 passing yards and 78 TDs — plus 5,103 rushing yards and 71 scores. (Seriously. That’s not a typo.)
The fact that he’s only spent 3 years as a full-time RB hints at untapped upside. But let’s not overlook what he accomplished at Florida State.
Akers became the third RB in program history with multiple seasons of 1,000 rushing yards. Dalvin Cook and Warrick Dunn are the others.
Akers started hot, posting an FSU freshman record 1,024 rushing yards in 2017. He also produced what would stand as a career-high in YPC (5.3) and PFF grade: 87.4. Quite impressive for an 18-year-old.
2018 was a mess thanks to poor O-line play, fumbles (5) and a nagging injury.
“There was a lot of games where you would see me coming off hobbling,” Akers said via ESPN. “I had a sprained ankle all of last year. But, if I was able to be out there I was going to be out there for the team. I was going to wrap it up and go.”
Akers rebounded last fall to earn second-team all-ACC honors. He set career highs in rushing yards, TDs and catches despite sitting out 2 games (including the Sun Bowl). Still, his O-line struggled yet again. Just consider this: Per Pro Football Focus, 76.2% of Akers’ career rushing yards came after contact. That’s 15% higher than the average mark.
On the positive side, Akers held up physically on 261 touches (23.7 per game). FSU’s #2 back — Khalan Laborn — handled only 73 touches.
Let’s see why the coaching staff chose to showcase Akers…
Games watched: Syracuse, Boston College, NC State, Clemson, Boise State, Miami (FL), Virginia
One of the main criticisms of Akers is that he’ll tend to bounce runs outside. Often times, however, he simply had no choice. This first run is all effort from the RB.
This next play is designed to run off RT, but this time we get a peek at his power. While Akers won't be confused for Derrick Henry, it's noteworthy that he weighted a stout 5'10, 217 pounds at the Combine. That's up from his college listing of 5'11, 212 pounds.
Here's another example of Akers being forced to create yards on his own.
Akers does have some issues with drops. Over 3 years, he tallied 9 drops on 86 targets. He’s clear a threat with the ball in his hands, however, and it’s easy to see screen-game value. His run-after-catch ability popped on tape.
Akers' real differentiator is with pass blocking. PFF charted him with only 15 career pressures allowed in 324 pass blocking opportunities, an elite rate.
Here’s how NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah described Akers in February on a pre-combine conference call.
“He’s talented. He runs through contact. He’s strong. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s got good patience. He’ll press and bounce —he’s got a good feel for that.”
“If you told me four years from now that Cam Akers ended up being the first or second best back in this draft, I would not be surprised at all.”
Pretty much. Essentially — Akers has intriguing, RB1 talent. But FSU’s supporting cast didn’t allow it to surface on the level of a D’Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor. Akers grades out as a day 2 pick and a potential year 1 fantasy contributor. Even if he disappoints right away, note that he'll turn just 21 in June.