For Zero RB drafters, Cam Akers is the ideal running back. His FFPC ADP sits at pick No. 54.36, and he’s the No. 26 running back off the board. Depending on league size, that allows us four or five selections at the top of our drafts to load up on premium wide receivers and a premium tight end while still being able to grab Akers as our RB1.
Prospect Profile and Production
In a draft class that included Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Cam Akers is flying under the radar. He was even selected before Dobbins in this year’s NFL Draft. At 5-10, 217-pounds with a 4.47 (87th-percentile among qualified running backs) 40-Yard Dash and 108.7 (89th-percentile) Speed Score, Akers fits the mold of a feature back.
In eleven games in 2019, Akers ran the ball 231 times for 1,144 yards (4.95 YPC) and was one of only seven college running backs to rush for over 1,000 yards while catching at least thirty passes. Akers’ 2019 season was even more impressive when taking into account offensive line play. PFF had Florida State’s offensive line ranked No. 129 out of 130 teams. Football Outsiders had them ranked No. 115 in Line Yards, which led to a whopping 76 broken tackles (No. 7), a No. 4 mark in missed-tackle rate (26 for every 100 carries), and 904 (79-percent) of his yards coming after contact.
After two seasons in 2017 and 2018 where all five starters on the offensive line played at least 860 (over 80-percent) of the snaps, the signs for a decrease in effectiveness were there in 2019 with the Rams entire interior offensive line changing over the past two seasons. Guard Jamon Brown left after 2017 which moved Austin Blythe into a starting role. Center John Sullivan and guard Rodger Saffold then left after 2018, leaving behind that important continuity they experienced.
In 2019, only two Rams offensive linemen played over 80-percent of their snaps as the team experienced injuries. The other four linemen to play significant snaps had never played more than 100 in an NFL season. On top of the new faces, Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein, and Austin Blythe all underperformed compared to past seasons.
Check out Cam Akers’ 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:
While the offensive line took that major step back, they were still a group closer to the middle of the pack in the run game, ranking No. 19 in both adjusted line yards and yards before contact. There is hope that this offensive line can surprise with health and continuity as it did in 2017 and 2018. In addition to the probability of a healthier line, Sean McVay adjusted his scheme in the second half of last season with the use of 12 (two tight end) personnel, which also should help what was an underperforming offensive line.
Akers’ youth, health, and profile should help even if there is no improvement along the offensive line. Todd Gurley clearly did not help the Rams offensive line in 2019 either. He ranked No. 41 among running backs in yards after contact, with a 19.3-percent (No. 40) Juke Rate and 2.7-percent (No. 42) Breakaway Run Rate despite plenty of opportunity.