2020 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Cam Akers (Fantasy Football)
The NFL Draft is quickly approaching, as we’re now just two weeks out from the 1st round of the NFL Draft, which takes place on April 23. Fortunately, the Fantasy Footballers writing staff has you covered with our 2020 Rookie Profiles, including awesome rookie wide receiver Reception Perception articles from Matt Harmon. Up to this point, I’ve written scouting profiles on other well known running back prospects, including D’Andre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, J.K. Dobbins, and Anthony McFarland Jr. Next up on the list: Cam Akers out of Florida State.
Editor’s Note: For more on the 2020 rookie class, check out all of our 2020 NFL Draft content and stay tuned to the Fantasy Footballers podcast for April’s Rookie Preview show where the Ballers breakdown each position heading into the draft.
College Production Profile[lptw_table id=”163156″ style=”default”]
Cam Akers was one of the top prospects coming out of high school after being named the U.S. Army National Player of the Year and Mississippi’s Mr. Football in 2016. He got recruited everywhere, and I mean everywhere – LSU, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, etc. Instead, he chose to attend Florida State. After all, FSU was coming off a 10-3 record, Jimbo Fisher was still the head coach, and Dalvin Cook had just become the school’s all time leading rusher. There was a lot to like about the Florida State program, as it was one of the top programs in the country.
In 2017, however, things changed in a big way, with the Seminoles falling to a 7-6 record. Since then, Florida State hasn’t had a winning record, and all of this was happening while Cam Akers was lining up in the backfield for the Seminoles. Why do I point this out? It’s extremely important context when discussing Akers’ production profile. He played on a bad offense, like a really bad offense. Florida State ranked 93rd in rushing 2019, 127th in 2018, and 77th in 2017. So, for Akers to put together an 1,100 yard season with 14 rushing TD is actually quite impressive. Moreover, in 2017, Akers broke Dalvin Cook’s school record for rushing yards as a freshman with a 1,024-yard season.
When compared to other RB prospects like J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor, Akers’ numbers look uninspiring, but simply looking at Akers’ numbers without context would be a mistake. While the production profile leaves a lot to be desired, there is a lot to like from an athletic testing and film perspective.
NFL Scouting Combine Measurements[lptw_table id=”163157″ style=”default”]
Cam Akers didn’t necessarily “hit a home run” so to speak at the Combine, as he didn’t necessarily finish at the top of the RB group in any one single category of the athletic testing events, but he had a really solid few days in Indianapolis. His 4.47 40-yard dash was excellent, ranking 5th at the position, and his weight adjusted speed score (according to PlayerProfiler.com) ranked in the 89th percentile. At his compact size (BMI = 31.1), Akers’ athletic testing numbers are quite favorable.
Where Akers really won at the Combine was in the running back positional drills. Akers looked quick, agile, explosive, and he showed excellent pass catching ability out of the backfield. After all, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah did say, “He is a really good back…It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up being the second or third back to go off the board. He’s that type of talent.”
More of Cam Akers at the NFL Combine, via the NFL Network pic.twitter.com/8TiJa4ePXf
— Noles247.com (@Noles247) February 29, 2020
What’s On Tape
Games viewed: Miami (2019), NC State (2019), Syracuse (2019)
1. Cam Akers runs with enough power to finish his runs and get the tough yardage.
Akers certainly isn’t the biggest back in this class, but boy does he pack a punch. Akers showed over and over again that he has enough power with his 217 lb. frame to run through defenders and finish his runs with authority. You may not think of him as a ‘power’ back, but he can get the job done in short yardage situations.
2. Akers wins in the screen game, demonstrating excellent open field vision.
There were many plays on film where Akers showed excellent pass catching ability on swing routes and screen passes, using his vision to set up the blockers in front of him. From there, his athletic ability takes over, and he can make defenders miss in the open field.
3. Quick feet in tight spaces allows Akers to get to the second level without losing momentum.
As just discussed, Akers knows how to use his eyes in unison with his feet. He sets up the first defender very well while staying focused on the next oncoming tackler. It’s a unique skill that allows Cam to get to the second level even in the tightest of spaces.
1. At times, Akers tries to do too much in the backfield.
Now, I’ll give him credit here. Like I said above, Florida State’s offense was terrible, and the same is true for the offensive line. Akers was forced to create for himself, so he may have gotten in the habit of trying to do too much. At the NFL level, he will need to trust his line more to become a more efficient runner.
2. Akers is a decent route runner, but he needs to clean up his pass protection if he wants to stay on the field on all three downs.
It’s not that he’s unwilling to do it, but his technique could use some work. It’s actually kind of surprising given how much he invites contact when running the football. When approaching a safety with the ball, Akers can run the defender over to get extra yards, as described above. He’s a powerful back, yet in pass protection, Akers usually leans into defenders rather than squaring up his pads.
2020 Fantasy Outlook
Cam Akers is a running back who could be relevant as early as 2020, even in redraft leagues, but he’ll need to land in the right situation to make it happen. Given that Akers was not listed on the list of NFL Draft participants who will “attend” the virtual draft in two weeks, he is unlikely to go in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Even so, Akers is a back who is projected to go in the third round of the NFL Draft. With this type of draft capital, it’s difficult to project Akers’ fantasy role right now. If he lands with a team with an incumbent starter in house, Akers is likely to join a committee and be a role player in year one. However, Akers should have every opportunity to be the starter for a team in 2021, making him more of an intriguing dynasty player worthy of a mid 1st round pick in dynasty rookie drafts.